Study links too many cups of coffee with huge spike in dementia risk

The world's most popular beverage, coffee, may be risky to brain health if consumed in excess, according to a new study. The research comes from the University of South Australia, which says its study is the largest on this particular topic conducted thus far. The new study follows past research linking regular caffeine consumption with brain shrinkage.

The study involved data on more than 17,000 people who participated in the UK Biobank study. The findings were concerning, with the researchers linking the consumption of more than six cups of coffee daily with a 53-percent increased risk of developing dementia later in life.

The link between excess coffee drinking and a negative impact on brain health was solid, with the study's lead researcher Kitty Pham explaining:

Accounting for all possible permutations, we consistently found that higher coffee consumption was significantly associated with reduced brain volume – essentially, drinking more than six cups of coffee a day may be putting you at risk of brain diseases such as dementia and stroke.

The researchers say they aren't sure the "exact mechanism" that links too much coffee with brain health problems, but they do note that finding the right balance when it comes to consumption may help protect against very damaging brain health problems down the road.

The findings are troubling given coffee's popularity around the world. Fortunately, many people drink far less than six cups a day, typically sticking to only one or two cups to wake up in the morning. The researchers suggest that based on their findings, those who find themselves gravitating to particularly large quantities of the beverage should cut back.