Dementia and stroke risk: high coffee consumption reduces brain volume

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Dementia due to high amounts of coffee?

Coffee has long been considered harmful to health, but scientific studies over the years have demonstrated numerous positive health effects of the popular hot beverage. In a recent study, however, high coffee consumption is now linked to lower total brain volume and an increased risk of dementia and stroke.

Danger from more than six cups of coffee a day?

The new research, involving experts from the University of Cambridge and the University of South Australia, analyzed the effects of coffee consumption on the brains of 17,702 participants in the UK Biobank study. It was found that people who consumed more than six cups of coffee per day had a 53 percent increased risk of dementia. The results of the study can be found in the English-language journal Nutritional Neuroscience.

Understanding coffee’s health benefits

“Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. But with global consumption exceeding nine billion kilograms per year, it is critical that we understand potential health effects,” reports study author Kitty Pham.

According to the expert, the new study is the most comprehensive investigation to date into the links between coffee, brain volume measurements, dementia and stroke risks. In addition, volumetric brain imaging data and a variety of confounding factors were considered. All participants ranged in age from 37 to 73 years.

High coffee consumption associated with lower brain volume

Taking all available data into account, higher coffee consumption was significantly associated with reduced brain volume and “essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee per day may increase the risk of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke,” Pham points out.

Moderate coffee consumption poses no problem

“This research provides important insights into heavy coffee consumption and brain health, but as with many things in life, moderation is key,” says study author Professor Elina Hyppönen. In light of the new data, she said, it may be advisable for people who drink a lot of coffee to cut back on their consumption in order to reduce their risk of dementia or stroke.

Brain is affected by high coffee consumption

“Together with other genetic evidence and a randomized controlled trial, these data strongly suggest that high coffee consumption may affect brain health,” the expert said in a news release. While the exact mechanisms are not known, she said, it can’t hurt to stay well hydrated and remember to drink a little water along with your cup of coffee.

When should coffee consumption be reduced?

“Typical daily coffee consumption is somewhere between one and two standard cups of coffee. Of course, measurements may vary, but a few cups of coffee per day is generally fine. However, if you find that your coffee consumption is heading toward more than six cups per day, it’s time to reconsider your next beverage,” advises the medical professional.

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