A new French study has shown that drinking three or more cups of tea or coffee every day could help older women improve their memory.
The study of some 7,000 men and women aged 65 and older in the French cities of Bordeaux and Montpellier showed that women's verbal memories benefited the most from coffee, reported the online edition of health magazine WebMD.
Participants of the study reported how many cups of tea and coffee they drank every day. They also told the researchers about their medications since some drugs contain caffeine. Few drank colas or cocoa, which also contain caffeine.
The participants took several tests of their mental skills, including a memory test based on a list of words. They repeated those tests two years later and again four years after the study began.
Women who reported drinking at least three cups of coffee or tea per day at the beginning of the study showed less of a drop in their test scores as compared to women who reported consuming at most one cup of tea or coffee every day.
It didn't matter if the women favored coffee or tea. That finding suggests that the caffeine was what mattered most.
But caffeine didn't seem to affect women's risk of developing memory disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers noted that the study might have been too short to show such a benefit.
However, the data show no caffeine benefits in men's test scores over the years. Women may be more sensitive to caffeine's effects, the researchers said.