Your pick-me-up cup of coffee in the morning may be helping you in more ways than you had imagined.
Caffeine is one of the world's most commonly taken drugs with annual intake estimated to be approximately equal to 120,000 tonnes. As it is so widely used, it generates a lot of interest.
Many studies have been carried out on the risks and benefits of one of humanity's favourite beverages but a recent study published in the September issue of Archives of Internal Medicine has added something new. It demonstrated a link between increased coffee consumption and a decrease in the risk of depression in women.
The report details a study carried out by Michael Lucas Ph.D., R.D., working at the Harvard School of Public Health. Over 50,000 women were involved in the study performed by Lucas and his colleagues.
They began by measuring caffeine consumption through the use of questionnaires that monitored general drink consumption (including caffeine free drinks).
The questionnaires were completed over a 24-year period starting in 1980, and were completed for the Nurses' Health Study. With an average age of 63 and without clinically diagnosed depression at the commencement of the study, the individuals were monitored up until the end of the follow-up period that was active from 1996 until 2006.
The researchers used the data to predict new clinical diagnoses of depression. The results of the analysis showed that an increase from one cup to two or three cups of coffee a day was linked to a drop of 15% in the relative risk of depression. This drop increased to 20% with an intake of four or more cups daily.
Unfortunately, for those who drink decaffeinated coffee, the study could find no connection between intake and a decreased risk of depression.
The authors of the study summed up their findings, "In this large prospective cohort of older women free of clinical depression or severe depressive symptoms at baseline, risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee."
They also called for further research into the area, including the possibility of the use of caffeine in preventative measures and treatments for depression.
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