A new long-term study led by Edith Cowan University scientists further supports the hypothesis that coffee intake may be a protective factor against Alzheimer’s disease, with increased coffee consumption potentially reducing cognitive decline.
“Worldwide, a high proportion of adults drink coffee daily, making it one of the most popular beverages globally,” said lead author Dr. Samantha Gardener from Edith Cowan University and Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation and her colleagues from Australia and the United States.
“Coffee contains a range of bioactive compounds, including caffeine, chlorogenic acid, polyphenols and small amounts of vitamins and minerals.”
“Epidemiological studies suggest coffee has beneficial effects on various conditions including stroke, heart failure, cancers, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.”
“Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive impairment of learning, memory and other cognitive deficits, with extracellular deposition of Aβ-amyloid (Aβ) protein within the brain leading to neuroinflammation, synaptic loss and neuronal death,” they added.
“Several studies suggest a protective role of coffee, with reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are limited longitudinal data from cohorts of cognitively normal older adults describing associations of coffee consumption with distinct domains of cognition, and concurrently investigating potential neuropathological mechanisms underpinning any such associations.”
In the new research, the authors investigated whether self-reported habitual coffee intake affected the rate of cognitive decline in 227 older adults over 126 months.
The study was conducted using data from the well-characterized Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle study of ageing (AIBL).
“The results showed an association between coffee and several important markers related to Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Gardener said.
“We found participants with no memory impairments and with higher coffee consumption at the start of the study had lower risk of transitioning to mild cognitive impairment — which often precedes Alzheimer’s disease — or developing Alzheimer’s disease over the course of the study.”
“Drinking more coffee gave positive results in relation to certain domains of cognitive function, specifically executive function which includes planning, self-control, and attention.”
“Higher coffee intake also seemed to be linked to slowing the accumulation of the amyloid protein in the brain, a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The researchers were unable to differentiate between caffeinated and de-caffeinated coffee, nor the benefits or consequences of how it was prepared (brewing method, the presence of milk and/or sugar etc).
“It’s a simple thing that people can change,” Dr. Gardener said.
“It could be particularly useful for people who are at risk of cognitive decline but haven’t developed any symptoms.”
“We might be able to develop some clear guidelines people can follow in middle age and hopefully it could then have a lasting effect.”
“If you only allow yourself one cup of coffee a day, the study indicates you might be better off treating yourself to an extra cup, although a maximum number of cups per day that provided a beneficial effect was not able to be established from the study.”
“If the average cup of coffee made at home is 240 g, increasing to two cups a day could potentially lower cognitive decline by 8% after 18 months.”
“It could also see a 5% decrease in amyloid accumulation in the brain over the same time period.”
The study was published in the journal Frontiers of Ageing Neuroscience.
Samantha L. Gardener et al. Higher Coffee Consumption is Associated with Slower Cognitive Decline and Less Cerebral Aβ-Amyloid Accumulation over 126 Months: Data from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle Study. Front. Aging Neurosci, published online November 19, 2021; doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.744872
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