Study: Coffee drinking habits linked with cognitive impairment

coffee consumptionIt’s time to spill the beans. While millions of coffee drinkers around the world are happy to reach for their morning brew, new research suggests too much can lead to cognitive impairment.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is considered an early symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. There is currently no treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia.


Researchers from the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy have linked coffee consumption and drinking habits to an increase in MCI. They evaluated 1,445 individuals from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging. The group was compiled of individuals from eight different Italian municipalities. There was a follow-up after 3.5 years.

Discovered in this study was that among older adults, those who increased their coffee consumption (those who started drinking more than one cup a day) had two times higher rates of MCI compared to those who drank less coffee. Those who consumed coffee routinely – maintain at least one to two cups a day with no change – had reduced incidences of MCI compared to those who never or rarely drank coffee. Notably, researchers said there was no significant link between people who routinely drank more than two cups of coffee and MCI compared to people who rarely drank coffee.

The study appears to suggest that a steady and moderate amount of coffee is good for the brain. But switching up the number of cups drank a day, or not drinking coffee at all didn’t have any benefits for the brain.

“These findings from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging suggested that cognitively normal older individuals who never or rarely consumed coffee and those who increased their coffee consumption habits had a higher risk of developing MCI,” said researcher Vincenzo Solfrizzi.

“Therefore, 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 Solfrizzi.


The researchers concluded that longer studies which look at the effects of dietary factors of MCI need to be conducted as a means for diet to be used to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.