Study links over six cups of coffee a day to dementia risk

Source: 1News

Research from the University of South Australia has found people who drink more than six cups of coffee a day are 53 per cent more likely to develop dementia.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield has cautioned people to remain vigilant.

The study was conducted at the University’s Centre for Precision Health alongside a team of international researchers.

Over 17,700 participants aged between 37 and 73 years old took part in the study which is thought to be the largest of its kind.

The study was completed between 2019 - 2021 and the results were published late last month.

Lead researcher and UniSA PhD candidate, Kitty Pham, says the research delivers important insights for public health.

"Coffee is among the most popular drinks in the world. Yet with global consumption being more than nine billion kilograms a year, it’s critical that we understand any potential health implications,” Pham says.

“This is the most extensive investigation into the connections between coffee, brain volume measurements, the risks of dementia, and the risks of stroke – it’s also the largest study to consider volumetric brain imaging data and a wide range of confounding factors.

“Accounting for all possible permutations, we consistently found that higher coffee consumption was significantly associated with reduced brain volume – essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee a day may be putting you at risk of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke.”

Chief Executive of Alzheimers New Zealand, Catherine Hall told 1 NEWS Dementia is one of the major health and social services challenges of the 21st century, in New Zealand and globally.

"While there is no New Zealand prevalence data, the Dementia Economic Impact Report 2016 suggests around 70,000 New Zealanders have dementia and that this number will increase to around 170,000 by 2050," she said.

"A recent study in the Lancet indicates New Zealand has a higher dementia risk than worldwide estimates, with high prevalences of untreated hearing loss and obesity."

Dementia has also been recognised by the WHO and the OECD as a pressing concern for nations because of a combination of major unmet needs faced by people living with dementia and their families, the high contribution of dementia to health system costs, and the very rapid increases in the numbers of people living with dementia that all countries are now experiencing because of their ageing populations.

The World Health Assembly adopted the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia in 2017. One of that Plan’s targets is for nations to have national dementia action plans to pro actively manage the challenges dementia poses to their populations.

"This government has a manifesto commitment to work with the New Zealand dementia sector to implement New Zealand’s first-ever Dementia Action Plan, which, among other key priorities, sets out steps to reduce the impact of dementia on New Zealanders, on the health system and on the economy," Hall said. 

"The Plan is evidence-based and provides Government with a blueprint to manage what is likely to be the most serious healthcare challenge facing New Zealand after Covid-19.

"Alzheimers NZ has also commissioned an update to our Dementia Economic Impact Report (DEIR) which will be complete and ready to publish during this coming September (World Alzheimers Month).

"We have produced a DEIR report every five years since 2008. The DEIR has been the only source of information about dementia, providing a current and future snapshot of the impact dementia has – and will have – on New Zealand. It has had a key role informing health sector policy on the issue of dementia over the years.

"The last DEIR was published in 2016 and made for concerning reading. In summary it projected the number of New Zealanders with dementia will nearly triple by 2050, and dementia will cost the health care system nearly $5 billion a year.

"On a more positive note, the report did indicate the fiscal impacts of dementia could be mitigated – new models of care that might delay a person’s entry into residential care could achieve cost benefit ratios of 6.6 times. These and other findings from the 2016 report helped underpin the development of the Dementia Action Plan," Hall said.