Caffeine can help elderly women preserve their mental agility, according to a new French study.
Scientists from French National Institute for Health and Medical Research found that women aged 65 and older who drank three or more cups of coffee each day experienced less of a decline in memory performance over a four-year period than women who drank one cup or less.
The study of 7,000 women in three French cities took a range of factors into account - including education, blood pressure and disease - to isolate the specific effect of caffeine consumption.
Dr Karen Ritchie, the author of the study, said: "Caffeine is a psycho-stimulant which appears to reduce cognitive decline in women."
However, she warned that further study would be needed before scientists could confidently promote caffeine as a means of preventing cognitive decline.
The study found no beneficial effect for men and although it reduced the rate of memory loss, caffeine did not affect the incidence of Alzheimer's disease.