Drinking More Coffee May Protect Against Cognitive Decline
By Joseph E. Scherger, MD, MPH
Core Faculty, Eisenhower Health Family Medicine, Residency Program, Eisenhower Health Center, La Quinta, CA; Clinical Professor, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
SYNOPSIS: Among adults older than age 60 years, heavier coffee consumption was associated with slower cognitive decline in executive function and less beta-amyloid accumulation.
SOURCE: Gardener SL, Rainey-Smith SR, Villemagne VL, et al. Higher coffee consumption is associated with slower cognitive decline and less cerebral amyloid beta-amyloid accumulation over 126 months: Data from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle study. Front Aging Neurosci 2021;13:744872.
Gardener et al enrolled 227 cognitively normal adults age 60 years and older in the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle study. Participants were followed for 126 months while researchers tracked cognitive decline by standardized testing and brain imaging, either PET scanning (n = 60) or MRI (n = 51). Coffee intake was self-reported and measured in grams per day. Habitual coffee intake was associated with cognitive domains of executive function in a linear relationship, with more coffee consumption associated with slower cognitive decline. Further, drinking more coffee was associated with a lower risk of converting from normal cognitive function to mild cognitive decline or to Alzheimer’s disease.
With imaging, coffee consumption was evaluated for beta-amyloid burden in the brain. Those who drank more coffee showed slower amyloid accumulation over 126 months. The authors did not observe any association with coffee intake and atrophy in grey matter, white matter, or hippocampal volume.
This study expands the known benefits of coffee consumption on cognitive function.1-3 Although excessive caffeine intake may cause symptoms such as insomnia, palpitations, or even arrhythmias, it is refreshing to know coffee consumption — even more than two cups daily — might be associated with better cognitive function and less amyloid plaques in the brain. I often tell patients that coffee is an herb and good for overall health. I also tell patients they do not necessarily need to convert to decaffeinated coffee, except in the evening when caffeine may impair restful sleep. Patients should let their knowledge of their body’s reactions and common sense be their guide. For someone like me who sips coffee from the early morning to the late afternoon, I am reassured this behavior is good for my brain health.
- Araújo LF, Mirza SS, Bos D, et al. Association of coffee consumption with MRI markers and cognitive function: A population-based study. J Alzheimers Dis 2016;53:451-461.
- Johnson-Kozlow M, Kritz-Silverstein D, Barrett-Connor E, Morton D. Coffee consumption and cognitive function in older adults. Am J Epidemiol 2002;156:842-850.
- Sargent A, Watson J, Topoglu Y, et al. Impact of tea and coffee consumption on cognitive performance: An fNIRS and EDA study. Appl Sci 2020;10:2390.
Among adults older than age 60 years, heavier coffee consumption was associated with slower cognitive decline in executive function and less beta-amyloid accumulation.
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