Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=189432
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 6:54:24 PM CST
Drinking caffeinated coffee might help decrease women's risk of depression.
Coffee may curb the risk of depression for women
Your morning cup of coffee may be giving you more than just a buzz.
Caffeinated coffee could decrease the risk of clinical depression in women, according to Harvard School of Public Health researchers who published findings this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For 10 years, researchers studied 50,739 U.S. women drinking caffeinated beverages. About 66 percent of the women in the study were more than 60 years old, and none of the women showed signs of depression at the beginning of the study.
Women in the study consumed the same amount of coffee per day during the entire test period, but different groups in the test consumed different amounts. Researchers monitored the onset of depression for the different groups for the duration of the study.
The study found that women who consumed four cups of coffee or more per day showed a 20 percent decrease in relative risk of depression, and women who consumed two to three cups per day showed a 15 percent decrease, compared to women drinking one cup or less a day.
“We know that probably one in five women, 20 percent of women, will have depression in their lifetime. That’s a major disease that touches a lot of women,” said Michel Lucas, an epidemiologist and post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health who was one of the main researchers.
The rate of depression in women is about 1.5 to 2 times higher than men. While there have been studies linking coffee with lower suicide risks, this study is the first to examine caffeine’s possible influence on women’s mental health. Hopefully, there will be more studies for women in this field, Lucas said.
The women in the different groups drank between 100 milligrams to 500 milligrams of caffeine a day throughout the course of the study. An estimated one to five cups of coffee, depending on the strength of the brew, provides that level of caffeine.
“Coffee represents about 82 percent of caffeine intake in adults,” Lucas said. “We didn’t find any relationship between decaf and depression, which probably suggests that caffeine has an effect in coffee.”
Though caffeine also is found in tea, cocoa and many soft drinks, coffee is the most popular source.
The study suggests that people who drink coffee can and should continue to drink coffee, Lucas said, despite coffee’s reputation for being addictive or potentially bad for blood pressure.
“We heard that coffee was bad for our health,” Lucas said. “But research about caffeinated coffee shows that there is no major impact on cardiovascular disease. It probably has good effects on health.”
The current recommendations for caffeine intake for women is 200 to 300 milligrams per day, or about two to three cups of coffee, said Angela Ginn, registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, based in Chicago.
“This study is promising in regards to the potential positive effect on caffeine,” she said. “More studies are needed to validate reduced risk of depression with consuming coffee.”
The researchers agreed that more research is needed to prove the cause and effect, but this is a start.
“The future may bring promise,” Ginn said. “But until then, enjoy a cup of joe or two per day. You may reap the benefits.”