My Great Aunt Cheryl sends me links to articles of questionable repute on a fairly regular basis via text, email, and occasionally on my Facebook wall for all the world to see. Well, here’s my chance to return the “favor”, but with a little more substance. Food & Wine reports that a new study shows that daily consumption of “higher-than-average” amounts of caffeine may decrease the likelihood of developing incident dementia or cognitive impairment.
Performed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and published in the Journals of Gerontology, the long-term study followed 6,467 age 65 and older over the course of a decade to investigate “the relationship between caffeine intake and incidence of cognitive impairment or probable dementia.” Over the course of the survey, 388 women received a diagnosis of probable dementia.
After adjusting for other risk factors (hormone therapy, age, race, education, body mass index, sleep quality, depression, hypertension, prior cardiovascular disease, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol consumption), the researchers found that participants who consumed daily amounts of caffeine above the median were 36% less likely to develop incident dementia or cognitive impairment.
The study does not give the exact number for what constitutes “median intake” but notes that those above median averaged 261mg caffeine daily, whereas those below median only averaged 64mg. According to Food & Wine, 261mg is roughly equivalent to a tall cup of Starbucks Pike’s Place roast.
Though the findings needed to be studied further, the paper notes they are “consistent with the existing literature showing an inverse association between caffeine intake and age-related cognitive impairment,” making it the ideal article to send to your parents and grandparents, maybe a link via snail mail or something. It’s (probably correct) science but unproven, and thanks to Food & Wine’s conflation of median and average, there’s enough to cause an astute reader to rightfully elicit an, “are your sources on this reliable,” which is perfect. Aunt Cheryl loves questionable science.
Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.