Aussie Researchers Found That Drinking This Much Coffee Can Negatively Affect Your Brain

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Starting the day with a cup of coffee is a ritual many of us look forward to each morning. While the caffeine-related benefits are largely what we drink the beverage for (as well as the taste!), the process of brewing your coffee or wandering down to a cafe near your home or office to pick one up is also a nice routine.

When it comes to the health benefits of coffee, much of the research is positive. When consumed in moderation, coffee can be extremely good for you and there is evidence that it is associated with a lower risk of mortality. But, just how much coffee is too much? Thanks to a team of researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA), we now know.

In order to discover how coffee affects the brain and whether it has any impact on stroke and dementia risk, researchers studied 17,702 people between the ages of 37 and 73, making it the largest study of its kind.

“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,” said lead researcher and UniSa PhD candidate, Kitty Pham, in a press release.

Using “volumetric brain imaging data and a wide range of confounding factors”, the researchers discovered that those who consumed coffee in excess experienced negative effects. In fact, participants who consumed more than six cups of coffee per day had a 53 percent increased risk of dementia and a smaller brain volume.

“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,” said Pham.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia, with an estimated 250 people diagnosed each day. Stroke is just as scary, and globally, one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime.

The good news to come out of this study is that while drinking coffee in excessive quantities isn’t great, consuming it in moderation is perfectly fine and can be good for your health.

“Together with other genetic evidence and a randomised controlled trial, these data strongly suggest that high coffee consumption can adversely affect brain health,” said senior investigator and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, Professor Elina Hyppönen.

“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. 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. 

“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.”

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