A new study suggests that drinking too much coffee can shrink your brain and increase your risk of dementia or stroke.
“High coffee consumption is associated with smaller total brain volumes and an increased risk of dementia,” claim researchers from the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of South Australia.
Just how much coffee is too much? According to the study, “Those who drank more than six cups of coffee a day had a 53 per cent increased risk of dementia.”
I guess this is somewhat comforting. I drink quite a bit of coffee daily—I’m drinking coffee as I write this—but I would say I drink fewer than six cups daily. I think. I hope.
“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,” says lead researcher Kitty Pham.
“This is the most extensive investigation into the connections between coffee, brain volume measurements, the risks of dementia, and the risks of stroke,” claims Pham. “[I]t’s also the largest study to consider volumetric brain imaging data and a wide range of confounding factors.”
That doesn’t mean coffee is bad for you. It just means coffee lovers must find “a balance between what you drink and what’s good for your health.”
“This research provides vital insights about heavy coffee consumption and brain health, but as with many things in life, moderation is the key,” Australian Centre for Precision Health Professor Elina Hyppönen says. “Together with other genetic evidence and a randomised controlled trial, these data strongly suggest that high coffee consumption can adversely affect brain health.”
“While the exact mechanisms are not known, one simple thing we can do is to keep hydrated and remember to drink a bit of water alongside that cup of coffee,” she adds.
“Typical daily coffee consumption is somewhere between one and two standard cups of coffee. Of course, while unit measures can vary, a couple of cups of coffee a day is generally fine,” Hyppönen added. “However, if you’re finding that your coffee consumption is heading up toward more than six cups a day, it’s about time you rethink your next drink.”
Other studies have linked coffee consumption to numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; Type 2 diabetes; Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; colon, uterine, and liver cancer; and cirrhosis. Others have suggested that coffee consumption is linked to bladder and pancreatic cancer and other health issues. A 2015 study suggested that consumption “was associated with lower risk of total mortality.”
I’m guessing Dr. Fauci would say that as long as you wear a mask, drinking coffee is fine.