Older Women See Depressions Go Down as Coffee Drinking Goes Up
chronic and recurring condition affecting twice as many women as men; includes about 1 of every 5 U.S. women
Sept. 26, 2011 –
In a survey of senior citizens several years ago, most of those participating said they would rather give up sex than drinking coffee. A new
study indicates it may be more than the flavor enticing seniors to caffeinated coffee. The risk of depression appears to decrease for older
women with their increase in coffee consumption.
Caffeine is the
most frequently used central nervous system stimulant in the world, and approximately 80 percent of consumption is in the form of coffee,
according to background information in the article published in the September 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the
research, including one prospective study among men, has suggested an association between coffee consumption and depression risk.
depression is a chronic and recurrent condition that affects twice as many women as men, including approximately one of every five U.S. women
during their lifetime,
of risk factors for depression among women and the development of new preventive strategies are, therefore, a public health priority," write
They sought to
examine whether, in women, consumption of caffeine or certain caffeinated beverages is associated with the risk of depression.
Ph.D., R.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues studied 50,739 U.S. women who participated in the Nurses' Health
Study. Participants, who had a mean (average) age of 63, had no depression at the start of the study in 1996 and were prospectively followed
up with through June 2006.
measured caffeine consumption through questionnaires completed from May 1980 through April 2004, including the frequency that caffeinated and
noncaffeinated coffee, nonherbal tea, caffeinated soft drinks (sugared or low-calorie colas), caffeine-free soft drinks (sugared or
low-calorie caffeine-free colas or other carbonated beverages) and chocolate were usually consumed in the previous 12 months.
defined depression as reporting a new diagnosis of clinical depression and beginning regular use of antidepressants in the previous two years.
Analysis of the
cumulative mean consumption included a two-year latency period. For example, data on caffeine consumption from 1980 through 1994 were used to
predict episodes of clinical depression from 1996 through 1998. And, consumption from 1980 through 1998 were used for the 1998 through 2000
follow-up period; and so on.
10-year follow-up period from 1996 to 2006, researchers identified 2,607 incident (new-onset) cases of depression. When compared with women
who consumed one cup of caffeinated coffee or less per week, they found these results:
● those who
consumed two to three cups per day had a 15 percent decrease in relative risk for depression, and
consuming four cups or more per day had a 20 percent decrease in relative risk.
women in the lowest (less than 100 milligrams [mg] per day) categories of caffeine consumption, those in the highest category (550 mg per day
or more) had a 20 percent decrease in relative risk of depression.
was found between intake of decaffeinated coffee and depression risk.
"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," write the authors.
They note that
this observational study "cannot prove that caffeine or caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of depression but only suggests the possibility of
such a protective effect."
The authors call
for further investigations to confirm their results and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption could contribute to
prevention or treatment of depression.
This study was
supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Ascherio received a grant from the National Alliance for Research on
Schizophrenia and Depression. Dr. Lucas received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec.
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