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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Coffee Strong Enough to Ward Off Dementia?

Moderate Coffee Drinking Reduces Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s by 65% in Study
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Jan. 16, 2009 -- Drinking coffee in moderate amounts during middle age may reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in the elderly, according to a new study.

Researchers in Finland and Sweden examined the records of 1,409 people whose coffee drinking habits had been recorded when they were at midlife.

Those who drank three to five cups of coffee per day in midlife were much less likely to have developed dementia or Alzheimer's in follow-up checks two decades or more later, the researchers say in the January issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

"Given the large amount of coffee consumption globally, the results might have important implications for the prevention of or delaying the onset of dementia/Alzheimer's disease," Miia Kivipelto, a researcher from the University of Kuopio, Finland, and the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, says in a news release. "The finding needs to be confirmed by other studies, but it opens the possibility that dietary interventions could modify the risk of dementia/AD. [And it] might help in the development of new therapies for these diseases."

Coffee and Dementia

In the study, participants were asked in 1972, 1977, 1982, or 1987, when they were all in midlife (average age 50), how much coffee they drank. Then they were split into three groups: low coffee drinkers (zero to two cups per day), moderate coffee drinkers (three to five cups per day), and high coffee drinkers (more than five cups per day).

Of the participants, 15.9% were low coffee drinkers, 45.6% were moderate coffee drinkers, and 38.5% were high coffee drinkers.

After an average of 21 years, 1,409 people between ages 65 and 79 were re-examined. A total of 61 were classified as having dementia, 48 with Alzheimer's.

The study showed that coffee drinkers at midlife had a lower risk for dementia or Alzheimer's later in life than people who drank little or no coffee at midlife. The lowest risk was found among moderate coffee drinkers. Moderate coffee drinkers had a 65%-70% decreased risk of dementia and a 62%-64% decreased risk of Alzheimer's compared with low coffee drinkers, the researchers write.

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