Q: I love coffee and I just read this article about a team of Swedish and Danish researchers who tracked coffee consumption in a group of men and women and found that drinking coffee could help prevent dementia. If that is the case, I shall be in my right mind until I am 127 years old!
Is it true?
Dr. Kasongo: Sorry, but there just isn't enough research to support or advocate drinking coffee as a health measure. There weren't enough people in that study to draw significant conclusions but its potential is promising. The way coffee may work is that it blocks the damage that cholesterol can inflict upon the body in general, but the brain in particular. There is an entity called the "blood brain barrier" that protects your brain from harmful toxins in your blood stream. The rationale is that cholesterol makes the barrier leaky therefore allowing the brain to be susceptible to damage. So, coffee may actually be blocking cholesterol from entering this leaky pathway, therefore keeping the brain healthier and staving off dementia. But it isn't clear if this is dose related or related to the amout you take at one time or over time. Moreover, if you take this a step further, wouldn't it just be easier to tell people to control their cholesterol by changing dietary habits and exercising? All of these things have been proven to be helpful as opposed to keeping people jacked up on coffee.
Mana Kasongo, MD is a board-certified emergency physician as well as a nationally published writer with expertise in emergency health care issues and women's health. Email her at Dr.Kasongo@revengeofthecurves.com with your women's health questions. All correspondence will be kept strictly confidential and your name will not be used if your question is selected. The Ask Dr. Kasongo column is for entertainment purposes only and the recommendations are merely suggestions. If you have a true concern you should consult your personal physician.