Three cups of coffee or tea a day may help maintain mental sharpness in older women, but caffeine consumption appears to have no effect in men.
French researchers studied more than 7,000 men and women with an average age of 74, following them over four years. They determined coffee and tea intake by interview, and they measured mental acuity with widely accepted tests of visual skills and verbal recall. They also recorded information on education, income, depression, and alcohol and tobacco use, among other factors. The study appears in the August issue of Neurology.
After controlling for other variables, the scientists found that women age 65 who drank three or more cups of coffee or tea a day were about one-third less likely to have a significant decline in verbal skills than those who drank a cup or less, reports Chicago Tribune.
In another study published this month in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, Italian researchers found that coffee can protect people against a less common ailment uncontrollable eyelid twitching, known as late-onset blepharospasm. Researchers, though, pointed out that while coffee seems to protect against the development of the disorder, it can not cure already-diagnosed twitching, Akron Beacon Journal reports.
As for men, don't give up. The French study continues and just may turn up positive for them, too. Not long ago, researchers from Finland, Italy , and the Netherlands reported that elderly coffee-drinking European men, when followed for a full 10 years, behaved just like women: They had less mental decline with greater coffee consumption. And three cups a day seemed to be the magic number.
So it's quite possible that la difference will vanish with further study. After all, most other health benefits gleaned from a coffee habit—such as a lower incidence of gout, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson's disease—serve men and women equally. I'd suggest for now that it's only prudent and fair to invite men to the kaffeeklatsch as well, informs U.S. News & World Report.