Women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day could be a third less likely to develop dementia

Women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day may reduce their risk of dementia by more than a third, according to new research published yesterday in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

The study led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee followed 6,467 women over the age of 65 who were taking part in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study for up to ten years. Women in the study consumed an average of 261mg of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent of 2-3 8oz cups of coffee, 5-6 8oz cups of tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.

Over the course of the ten-year study, 388 of the women developed cognitive impairment or dementia. Those who reported drinking more caffeine than the average, were 36% less likely to develop these conditions than those who drank less than the average amount of caffeine. The researchers controlled for other related factors such as age, race, education, sleep quality, BMI and other health conditions.

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said:

'Increasingly research is finding links between the lifestyle choices we make – what we choose to eat, whether we smoke, how much exercise we take - and our likelihood of developing dementia. Although this study has suggested that women who drank more coffee and tea than average were a third less likely to develop dementia over a ten year period, it does not tell us that caffeine was responsible for the lower dementia rates.  

'This isn’t the only research to suggest a link between caffeine and dementia but now we need to see robust trials to test whether putting the kettle on for those extra cups of tea or coffee could be a good way to reduce the risk of developing the condition.

'There is no single way to reduce your risk of dementia, the best evidence supports a combination of exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and eating a healthy, balanced diet.'