A new research study suggests that daily consumption of coffee may provide more than a temporary pick-me-up. It may actually lower the risk of depression in women.
In the study, Harvard University researchers found that women who drank two to three cups of fully-caffeinated java a day had a 15 percent lower risk of depression than non-coffee drinkers. Those who drank more—four-plus cups per day—lowered their risk by 20 percent.
Women, in general, are more likely than men to suffer from depression than men..
“Our results support a possible protective effect of caffeine, mainly from coffee consumption, on risk of depression,” the researchers wrote in the latest issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.
The researchers followed more than 50,000 participants for ten years, one of the largest women’s health studies undertaken in the U.S. The study’s authors cautioned that their results must be replicated before firm conclusions can be made connecting caffeinated coffee consumption and depression risk. Prior studies have linked coffee to a decrease in suicide risk, while others have shown that caffeine can lead to an increase in anxiety.
The Harvard researchers noted that the study was about the potential impact of caffeine from coffee—not just caffeine in general. Other sources of caffeine, such as decaf, soft drinks, chocolate and tea, did not offer the same preventative benefits, possibly because of their lower caffeine levels, said the researchers.
The researchers aren’t sure why caffeine might keep the blues at bay. “We know that caffeine enters the brain and activates the release of different neurotransmitters that are related to mood, like dopamine and serotonin,” said Dr. Albert Ascherio, one of the study’s authors. “That may explain the shorter-term effects on mood. But the long-term mechanisms of caffeine intake on mood we don’t really know.”
So it looks like it may be a while before the study’s results can be duplicated and scientists understand why coffee does what it does. In the meantime, I think I’ll pour myself another cup.
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