Background: Nonhuman studies suggest a protective effect of caffeine on cognition. Although human literature remains less consistent, reviews suggest a possible favorable relationship between caffeine consumption and cognitive impairment or dementia. We investigated the relationship between caffeine intake and incidence of cognitive impairment or probable dementia in women aged 65 and older from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study.
Methods: All women with self-reported caffeine consumption at enrollment were included (N = 6,467). In 10 years or less of follow-up with annual assessments of cognitive function, 388 of these women received a diagnosis of probable dementia based on a 4-phase protocol that included central adjudication. We used proportional hazards regression to assess differences in the distributions of times until incidence of probable dementia or composite cognitive impairment among women grouped by baseline level of caffeine intake, adjusting for risk factors (hormone therapy, age, race, education, body mass index, sleep quality, depression, hypertension, prior cardiovascular disease, diabetes, smoking, and alcohol consumption).
Results: Women consuming above median levels (mean intake = 261mg) of caffeine intake for this group were less likely to develop incident dementia (hazard ratio = 0.74, 95% confidence interval [0.56, 0.99], p = .04) or any cognitive impairment (hazard ratio = 0.74, confidence interval [0.60, 0.91], p = .005) compared to those consuming below median amounts (mean intake = 64mg) of caffeine for this group.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest lower odds of probable dementia or cognitive impairment in older women whose caffeine consumption was above median for this group and are consistent with the existing literature showing an inverse association between caffeine intake and age-related cognitive impairment.
Keywords: Aging; Cognitive function; Cognitive impairment; Dementia; Hormone therapy.
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