Drinking several cups of coffee a day may help to prevent depression in women, a study has shown.
Four or more cups of caffeinated coffee cut the risk of clinical depression by 20pc when compared with drinking one or fewer cups per week.
The US researchers say they cannot be sure of a causal link between coffee consumption and avoiding depression.
However, they adjusted the results to take account of a multitude of other risk factors.
They also found no similar association with decaffeinated coffee or other sources of caffeine, including soft drinks, tea and chocolate.
A "dose response" was also seen, with two to three cups of coffee per day reducing the relative risk of depression by 15pc.
The research involved 50,739 women. None of the women had depression at the start of the 10-year study, which began in 1996.
The findings were reported yesterday in the journal 'Archives of Internal Medicine'.
The scientists pointed out that caffeine had "well-known psychostimulant effects", including "increased sensations of well-being and energy".