People who increase their coffee consumption over time are at increased risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) which could lead to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, a new study has warned.
Researchers estimated the association between change or constant habits in coffee consumption and the incidence of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
The study evaluated 1,445 individuals recruited from 5,632 subjects, aged 65-84 year old, from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ILSA), a population-based sample from eight Italian municipalities.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is considered a prodromal stage of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The study found that cognitively normal older individuals who modified their habits by increasing with time their amount of coffee consumption (more than 1 cup of coffee per day) had about two times higher rate of MCI compared to those with reduced habits (less than 1 cup of coffee per day) and about one and half time higher rate of MCI in comparison with those with constant habits (neither more nor less 1 coffee per day).
Moreover, those who habitually consumed moderate amount of coffee (1 or 2 cups of coffee per day) had a reduced rate of the incidence of MCI than those who habitually never or rarely consumed coffee.
No significant association was verified between people who habitually consumed higher levels of coffee (more than 2 cups of coffee per day) and the incidence of MCI in comparison with those who never or rarely consumed coffee.
“Moderate and regular coffee consumption may have neuroprotective effects also against MCI confirming previous studies on the long-term protective effects of coffee, tea, or caffeine consumption and plasma levels of caffeine against cognitive decline and dementia,” said researchers Vincenzo Solfrizzi and Francesco Panza of University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy.
The researchers also showed that both rare and higher consumption of coffee (more than 2 cups per day) were associated with higher risk of the incidence of MCI.
Biological effects of caffeine on brain function also included modulation of white matter lesions and/or microvascular ischemic lesions, and improved insulin sensitivity, so reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a strong risk factor for cognitive decline.
Moreover, caffeine could in part compensate the cognitive decline in older individuals because its effects on vigilance and attention, mainly in situations of reduced alertness, researchers said.
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.