Coffee Consumption, Brain Volume & Dementia – Moderation is the Key

Researchers at the Australian Center for Precision Health at the University of South Australia reported on a study looking at coffee consumption and its effects on the brain. The study investigator, Elina Hypponen, PhD found that drinking coffee in moderation had no ill effect on the brain but drinking six or more cups a day produced adverse effects.

The researchers looked at the United Kingdom Biobank which had information on 500,000 participants ranging in age from 37-73 representing 22 study sites in a four-year period between March 2006 and October 2010. From the 500,000 Biobank patients they looked, at 398,646 coffee drinkers. These participants had undergone health questioning, physical exams and lab evaluation of blood, urine and saliva. MRIs of the brain, heart and body were done on 100,000.

Participants reported coffee intake in cups per day. They compared drinkers of 1-2 cups per day with others who consumed 3-4 cups per day, 5-6 cups per day and more than 6 cups per day. Brain imaging was done at entry into the data bank and 4-6 years later.

There turned out to be an inverse linear relationship between daily coffee consumption and non-white matter brain volume. They concluded that drinking six or more cups of coffee per day is associated with smaller brain volume and a 53% increased risk for dementia compared to light coffee consumption of 1-2 cups per day.

The study was published online on MDedge Internal Medicine and Nutritional Neuroscience. After reading this work, it once again becomes clear that consuming coffee in moderation seems to produce no ill effect on the brain.