Women who consume more coffee appear to suffer less depression, according to new research.
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health, published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that increased caffeine consumption was associated with a decreased risk of becoming depressed.
The study did not look at the impact of caffeine on women who already had depression
Researchers studied 50,739 U.S. women, with an average age of 63, who participated in the landmark U.S. Nurses’ Health Study. They had no depression at the start of the study in 1996, but in the decade following, 2,607 were identified has having developed the mood disorder.
When compared to women who consumed one cup of caffeinated coffee or less per week, those who consumed two or three cups per day had a 15 per cent decrease in relative risk for depression, and those who consumed four cups or more per day had a 20 per cent decrease in risk.
“I think it is very good news for every coffee drinker,” lead author Michel Lucas remarked in a telephone interview from Boston.
A research fellow in the department of nutrition, Lucas noted there have been conflicting studies on whether coffee is good or bad for one’s health. For example, while it has been shown to be associated with high blood pressure, it also been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease.
“If there is something in nutrition that has an effect on depression and mood, I think coffee is one,” said Lucas.
The study did not look at why those who drank more coffee reported less depression. Lucas said more work needs to been done before scientists can definitively say that drinking coffee will reduce the risk of depression.
Caffeine is the world’s most widely used central nervous system stimulator with approximately 80 per cent of it consumed in the form of coffee.
But there has been little analysis of the link between coffee and depression.
The study suggests that it’s the caffeine in coffee that has an impact on mood, as the same results were not found with decaffeinated coffee.
The Harvard study did not look at men, but Lucas said it was his own experience, as an avid coffee drinker, that made him want to look at its impact on mood.
“As a coffee drinker, I was interested in this because I know that coffee makes me feel good,” he said.
According to the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, 8 per cent of Canadians will experience a major depression in their lifetime.