Drinking tea regularly lowered the risk for cognitive impairment in older adults by 50%, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging.
Furthermore, this rate of reduced cognitive decline increased to as much as 86% for individuals who were genetically at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and carry the APOE e4 gene.
Feng Lei, of the department of psychological medicine at National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, and colleagues sought to determine the association between tea consumption habits and incident neurocognitive disorders. They collected tea consumption data for 957 community-living Chinese adults aged 55 years or older at baseline from 2003 to 2005, as well as information on incident cases of neurocognitive disorders from 2006 to 2010. The researchers noted that the participants were cognitively intact at baseline. Logistic regression models adjusting for potential cofounders were used to measure the OR of the association.
Lei and colleagues identified 72 incident cases of neurocognitive disorders within the cohort. Independent of other risk factors, consumption of both green tea (OR = 0.43) and black/oolong tea (OR = 0.53) reduced the risk of incident neurocognitive disorders. Consistent tea drinkers showed this reduction in cognitive impairment (OR = 0.39), while consistent nontea drinkers did not. The researchers noted that stratified analyses revealed the association between tea consumption and reduced risk for neurocognitive disorders was evident among women (OR = 0.32) and APOE e4 carriers (OR = 0.14), but not among men and individuals without the APOE e4 gene.
“While the study was conducted on Chinese elderly, the results could apply to other races as well,” Lei said in a related press release. “Our findings have important implications for dementia prevention. Despite high-quality drug trials, effective pharmacological therapy for neurocognitive disorders, such as dementia, remains elusive and current prevention strategies are far from satisfactory. Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. The data from our study suggest that a simple and inexpensive lifestyle measure, such as daily tea drinking, can reduce a person’s risk for developing neurocognitive disorders in late life.”
Bioactive compounds in tea leaves, including catechins, theaflavins, thearubigins and L-theanine, cause this long-term benefit of drinking tea through their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential and other bioactive properties that protect the brain from vascular damage and neurodegeneration, according to Lei.
“Our understanding of the detailed biological mechanisms is still limited, so we do need more research to find out definitive answers,” he concluded. – by Alaina Tedesco
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.