In a study evaluating the relationship between coffee and tea consumption and the risk of dementia and stroke, the researchers revealed that a certain number of cups consumed per day had the highest association with a decreased risk.
That is the message from recent research that is generating much attention. The research, published in the journal PLOS Medicine on November 16, assessed data from 365,682 adults aged 50 to 74 who took part in the UK Biobank. (If you are not acquainted with the UK Biobank, it is a large-scale biomedical database and research resource.) The health of the individuals and their coffee and tea consumption habits were monitored for 10 to 14 years.
During the research, 5,079 people got dementia, and 10,053 people had at least one stroke. The researchers examined persons who did not drink coffee or tea to those who did and discovered that those who enjoyed their brewed beverages had a reduced risk of stroke and dementia than abstainers. Those who drank two to three cups of coffee or three to five cups of tea per day had a decreased risk of dementia and stroke. Those who drank two to three cups of coffee and two to three cups of tea per day—so four to six cups of coffee and tea per day—had the most outstanding outcomes, with a 32% reduced risk of stroke and a 28% lower risk of dementia.
“We discovered that consuming coffee and tea individually or together was connected with a decreased risk of stroke and dementia,” the researchers concluded. “Consumption of coffee alone or in conjunction with tea was linked to a decreased incidence of poststroke dementia.”
It is worth noting that the research discovered merely a relationship, not causality. That is, the researchers did not discover that drinking coffee or tea reduces a person’s chance of dementia or stroke; instead, they discovered that persons who consume coffee and tea had a decreased risk of these primary health conditions. Scott Kaiser, MD, a geriatrician and the director of Geriatric Cognitive Health at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells health that the correlation vs. causation component is critical. He emphasizes that the research “does not establish that consuming coffee or tea caused this decrease in risk.”
Doctors are still interested. “He is delighted that coffee drinking may reduce my own risk of dementia,” Amit Sachdev, MD, medical director in the Department of Neurology at Michigan State University, tells health.
This is not the first research to discover a correlation between coffee, in particular, and good health. For example, one research of over 468,000 adults, presented in August at the European Society of Cardiology, showed that drinking up to three cups of coffee per day is associated with a decreased risk of stroke and heart disease. In addition, a meta-analysis of 34,282 people’s data published in the journal Clinical Nutrition in 2016 discovered that drinking one or two cups of coffee per day is associated with a decreased risk of dementia.
Of course, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. For example, research published earlier this year in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience discovered that consuming more than six cups of coffee each day increases your chance of developing dementia.
The “considerable disagreement” around the link between coffee and tea intake and stroke and dementia is one of the reasons the researchers claim they undertook this most recent study.
It is unclear why there could be a relationship between coffee and tea use and dementia and stroke risk—and the new research did not look into this. “While caffeine is undoubtedly a crucial shared denominator,” Dr. Kaiser explains, “coffee and tea are both derived from plants with many, many potentially beneficial chemical components, including strong antioxidants.” Any of these phytonutrients—chemicals produced by plants to maintain their health—”can really lower inflammation in our brains, protect brain cells from damage, improve learning and memory, and give other obvious advantages for brain health,” he continues.
All of this begs the question: Should the individual start drinking coffee or tea if the individuals are not already? Dr. Sachdev does not recommend it. “He is a little doubtful that this research will affect behavior,” he adds. “He would be more interested if a specific chemical in coffee or tea could be discovered.”
However, if one is already a coffee or tea user, individuals will be relieved to discover that the daily habit may be linked to a decreased risk of dementia and stroke.
Korin Miller, Can Drinking Coffee Lower Your Dementia Risk? Here’s What New Research Says About the Association, November 17,Health. 2021.https://www.health.com/condition/neurological-disorders/coffee-and-dementia?fbclid=IwAR2DVl54rZI4I3zAbn17ZsGZxWaVD1CbzGXeTZl2e4qmFfIivm83a10yQj0