In women, caffeine may protect memory

August 6, 2007

Caffeine may help older women protect their thinking skills, according to a study published in the August 7, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that women age 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee (or the equivalent in tea) per day had less decline over time on tests of memory than women who drank one cup or less of coffee or tea per day. The results held up even after researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect memory abilities, such as age, education, disability, depression, high blood pressure, medications, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses.

“Caffeine is a psychostimulant which appears to reduce cognitive decline in women,” said study author Karen Ritchie, PhD, of INSERM, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, in Montpellier, France. “While we have some ideas as to how this works biologically, we need to have a better understanding of how caffeine affects the brain before we can start promoting caffeine intake as a way to reduce cognitive decline. But the results are interesting – caffeine use is already widespread and it has fewer side effects than other treatments for cognitive decline, and it requires a relatively small amount for a beneficial effect.”

The study involved 7,000 people whose cognitive abilities and caffeine consumption were evaluated over four years. Compared to women who drank one cup or less of coffee per day, those who drank over three cups were less likely to show as much decline in memory. Moreover, the benefits increased with age – coffee drinkers being 30 percent less likely to have memory decline at age 65 and rising to 70 percent less likely over age 80.

Caffeine consumers did not seem to have lower rates of dementia. “We really need a longer study to look at whether caffeine prevents dementia; it might be that caffeine could slow the dementia process rather than preventing it,” said Ritchie.

Ritchie said researchers aren’t sure why caffeine didn’t show the same result in men. “Women may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine,” she said. “Their bodies may react differently to the stimulant, or they may metabolize caffeine differently.”

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Caffeinated coffee may reduce the risk of oral cancers

Related Stories

Caffeinated coffee may reduce the risk of oral cancers

December 10, 2012

A new American Cancer Society study finds a strong inverse association between caffeinated coffee intake and oral/pharyngeal cancer mortality. The authors say people who drank more than four cups of caffeinated coffee per ...

Not just a 'women's disease,' osteoporosis strikes men too

October 9, 2013

Osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to weaken and sometimes break, is often thought of as a "women's disease," but it poses a significant threat to more than 2 million men in the United States, according to the National ...

How we became the heaviest drinkers in a century

October 27, 2015

I first met alcohol in the late 1980s. It was the morning after one of my parents' parties. My sister and I, aged nine or ten, were up alone. We trawled the lounge for abandoned cans. I remember being methodical: pick one ...

One week at a health spa improves your health, study shows

November 19, 2012

Take off those Thanksgiving pounds with a week at a spa retreat. A new study shows that not only are they relaxing and nourishing, but they are safe and a week-long spa stay can correspond with changes in our physical and ...

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.