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High coffee use associated with slower cognitive decline — 10-year biomarker analysis

There was an association between higher coffee consumption and lower risk of transitioning to the mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, found a 10-year analysis from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study of ageing.

Lead investigator Dr Samantha Gardener of Edith Cowan University (ECU) said the study investigated whether coffee intake affected the rate of cognitive decline of more than 200 Australians over a decade.

“We found participants with no memory impairments and with higher coffee consumption at the start of the study had lower risk of transitioning to mild cognitive impairment, which often precedes Alzheimer’s disease, or developing Alzheimer’s over the course of the study,” she said.

Drinking more coffee gave positive results in relation to certain domains of cognitive function, specifically executive function, which includes planning, self-control, and attention.

Higher coffee intake also seemed to be linked to slowing the accumulation of the amyloid protein in the brain, a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Gardener said although further research was needed, the study was encouraging as it indicated drinking coffee could be an easy way to help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“It'’s a simple thing that people can change,” she said. “It could be particularly useful for people who are at risk of cognitive decline but haven’t developed any symptoms. We might be able to develop some clear guidelines people can follow in middle age and hopefully it could then have a lasting effect.”

A maximum number of cups per day that provided a beneficial effect was not able to be established from the study. Nor was it able to differentiate between caffeinated and de-caffeinated coffee, nor the benefits or consequences of how it was prepared (brewing method, the presence of milk and/or sugar etc).

“But if the average cup of coffee made at home is 240g, increasing to two cups a day could potentially lower cognitive decline by 8% after 18 months,” Gardener said. “It could also see a 5% decrease in amyloid accumulation in the brain over the same time period.”

Gardener said the relationship between coffee and brain function was worth pursuing. “We need to evaluate whether coffee intake could one day be recommended as a lifestyle factor aimed at delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s,” she said.

Researchers are yet to determine precisely which constituents of coffee are behind its seemingly positive effects on brain health. Though caffeine has been linked to the results, preliminary research shows it may not be the sole contributor to potentially delaying Alzheimer’s disease.

“Crude caffeine” is the by-product of de-caffeinating coffee and has been shown to be as effective in partially preventing memory impairment in mice, while other coffee components such as cafestol, kahweol and Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide have also been seen to affect cognitive impairment in animals in various studies.

Study details:

Higher Coffee Consumption Is Associated With Slower Cognitive Decline and Less Cerebral Aβ-Amyloid Accumulation Over 126 Months: Data From the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle Study

Samantha L. Gardener, Stephanie R. Rainey-Smith, Victor L. Villemagne, Jurgen Fripp, Vincent Doré, Pierrick Bourgeat, Kevin Taddei, Christopher Fowler, Colin L. Masters, Paul Maruff, Christopher C. Rowe, David Ames, Ralph N. Martins.

Published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience on 19 November 2021

Background
Worldwide, coffee is one of the most popular beverages consumed. Several studies have suggested a protective role of coffee, including reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, there is limited longitudinal data from cohorts of older adults reporting associations of coffee intake with cognitive decline, in distinct domains, and investigating the neuropathological mechanisms underpinning any such associations.

Methods
The aim of the current study was to investigate the relationship between self-reported habitual coffee intake, and cognitive decline assessed using a comprehensive neuropsychological battery in 227 cognitively normal older adults from the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle (AIBL) study, over 126 months. In a subset of individuals, we also investigated the relationship between habitual coffee intake and cerebral Aβ-amyloid accumulation (n = 60) and brain volumes (n = 51) over 126 months.

Results
Higher baseline coffee consumption was associated with slower cognitive decline in executive function, attention, and the AIBL Preclinical AD Cognitive Composite (PACC; shown reliably to measure the first signs of cognitive decline in at-risk cognitively normal populations), and lower likelihood of transitioning to mild cognitive impairment or AD status, over 126 months. Higher baseline coffee consumption was also associated with slower Aβ-amyloid accumulation over 126 months, and lower risk of progressing to “moderate,” “high,” or “very high” Aβ-amyloid burden status over the same time-period. There were no associations between coffee intake and atrophy in total gray matter, white matter, or hippocampal volume.

Discussion
Our results further support the hypothesis that coffee intake may be a protective factor against AD, with increased coffee consumption potentially reducing cognitive decline by slowing cerebral Aβ-amyloid accumulation, and thus attenuating the associated neurotoxicity from Aβ-amyloid-mediated oxidative stress and inflammatory processes. Further investigation is required to evaluate whether coffee intake could be incorporated as a modifiable lifestyle factor aimed at delaying AD onset.

 

Frontiers article – Higher Coffee Consumption Is Associated With Slower Cognitive Decline and Less Cerebral Aβ-Amyloid Accumulation Over 126 Months: Data From the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers, and Lifestyle Study (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Coffee more likely to benefit health than harm it

 

Wake up and smell the placebo, for a cognitive boost

 

Up to three cups of coffee daily linked to significant health benefits — UK Biobank analysis

 

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