Can women avoid depression by drinking coffee?
Coffee has been getting a lot of good press lately as evidence grows of its protective effects against strokes, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, and another new study will likely make coffee drinkers even happier.
Middle-age women who consumed four or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day had about a 20 percent lower risk of getting depression over 10 years compared with those who consumed less than a cup of daily java - or those who drank only decaf, according to the finding published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Those who drank two to three daily cups of regular coffee (or the equivalent amount of caffeine through tea or caffeinated soda) had a 15 percent lower risk.
“No question caffeine has some action on the brain, and it appears that long-term use of caffeine alters brain receptors that are involved with depression,’’ said study author Dr. Alberto Ascherio, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Those same receptors are also involved in Parkinson’s disease, which he and his colleagues found in a 2001 study might also be influenced by coffee intake.
But other experts caution that the cause and effect relationship hasn’t been proven between coffee and all those health ills it purportedly protects against. “It seems premature to recommend coffee consumption until studies with methodologies better able to determine causality are conducted,’’ wrote Dr. Seth Berkowitz, an internist at the University of California, San Francisco, in an editor’s note that accompanied the study. On the bright side, Berkowitz added, “these results reassure coffee drinkers that there seem to exist no glaringly deleterious health consequences to coffee consumption.’’