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Coffee May Help Reduce Chances of Getting Alzheimer's

Updated on March 26, 2012

Doctor Sanjiv Chopra has already mentioned that coffee is good for you in his book Doctor Chopra Says: Medical Facts & Myths Everyone should know.

Now studies have been coming out in 2009 and 2010 suggesting that coffee may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's. The key ingredient in the protection against Alzheimer's is caffeine.

On the down side.... If you are diabetic, then caffeine may be bad for blood glucose control. Coffee also may increase the risk of myocardial infarction.[source].

As has reported on NPR radio, neuro-scientist Gary Arendash drinks 5 to 6 cups a day. They had seen mice do better in short-term memory tasks when they added caffeine to their water.[2]

Researchers in Finland followed 1400 coffee drinkers for two decades. They found that people in their 40s and 50s who drink 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day, had a 65% to 70% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer's in their 70s.[2]

"The Early Show" reported similar studies in 2009 mentioning that the caffeine may be decreasing inflammation in the brain and cutting down on the protein buildup. But it warns that caffeine is a drug and can be associated with increased blood pressure and heart rate.

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Studies reported in the "Journal of Alzheimer Disease"

Besides hearing reports from the popular media such as NPR and The Early Show, you can find reports in scientific journals as well.

In July 2009, The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease article "Caffeine Reverses Cognitive Impairment and Decreases Brain Amyloid-β Levels in Aged Alzheimer’s Disease Mice" which says ...

"We have recently shown that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) transgenic mice given a moderate level of caffeine intake (the human equivalent of 5 cups of coffee per day) are protected from development of otherwise certain cognitive impairment and have decreased hippocampal amyloid-β (Aβ) levels due to suppression of both β-secretase (BACE1) and presenilin 1 (PS1)/g-secretase expression. ... those impaired transgenic mice given caffeine (Tg/Caff) exhibited vastly superior working memory compared to the continuing impairment of control transgenic mice."[1]

Another article in the same volume, "Caffeine Suppresses Amyloid-β Levels in Plasma and Brain of Alzheimer’s Disease Transgenic Mice" says ...

"Recent epidemiologic studies suggest that caffeine may be protective against Alzheimer’s disease (AD)."[1]

Neuroscience 2006 Nov 3 has article titled "Caffeine protects Alzheimer's mice against cognitive impairment and reduces brain beta-amyloid production." saying ...

"epidemiological study suggested that higher caffeine intake over decades reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD)."[3]

Coffee also is a strong antioxidant.[5] Antioxidant help decrease oxidative stress on the brain by neutralizing damaging free radicals.

Books Mentioning the Benefits of Caffeine in Protection Against Alzheimer's

The book "100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss" has as number 16 "Don't be afraid of caffeine" saying "It might just help keep Alzheimer's toxins out of your brain."

It says ...

"Caffeine did not just modify minor factors, such as inflammation. Caffeine struck directly at the disease process, by shrinking the deposition and amyloid in the brain by any astonishing 50 percent! Caffeine works by suppressing enzymes that make toxic amyloid."[4]

The book The Caffeine Advantage (page 185) says that caffeine is anti-inflammatory and many scientists believe that inflammation of the brain plays a role in Alzheimer's Disease.

The Encyclopedia of Alzheimer's Disease under the letter "C" says that caffeine "appears to help support protein levels that maintain the integrity of the blood-brain barrier."

And the book Nutrition research advances has a section called "Neuroprotective Effects of Caffeine Against neurodegeneration in (AD)" (page 202) which tells of a case-control study where caffeine exposure is inversely associated with Alzheimer's disease -- meaning more caffeine exposure less Alzheimer chance and vice versa.

Coffee was listed in 2010 CNN's article "10 foods that help boost your brain power". It is also listed in CookingLight as "Five Surprising Good-for-you Foods".

Dr. Mark Hyman said in his talk at Google that coffee bean has something in it that enhance neural connections.

"You: The Owner's Manual" by Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz says ...

"There have been enough studies performed that we can say that drinking 24 ounces of coffee a day decreases your risk of Parkinson's disease by 40 percent and your risk of Alzheimer's disease by 20 percent." [page 92]

Negative Effects of Caffiene

Keep in mind that studies do not necessarily indicate conclusive results. And that there may be other studies that suggest differently.

If you look closely at the coffee studies mentioned, in order to have an effect on decreasing Alzheimer's risk, one needs to drink a lot of coffee. This high consumption of caffeine may be more than what certain caffeine-sensitive individuals can handle. It is important to realize that not everyone agrees with caffeine. There are some downside of caffeine. There are some that recommends limiting caffeine, especially for certain people and conditions.

Caffeine may not be wise for people with hypertension, pregnancy, irregular heartbeat, and sensitivity to caffeine. Caffeine may also not be good for people with diabetes as it decreases glucose control. Caffeine can also cause jitteriness and sleeplessness. Afterall, sleep is necessary for brain health as well.

On page 193 of Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You, it says ...

"This is because caffeine is a stimulant that raises blood pressure and heart rate. A 2006 study in Journal of Physiology showed that caffeine exaggerates the stress response, which in excess can take a toll on your health and your brain. ... is recommended to decrease or avoid caffeine if you have sleep problems."

Coffee is not recommended if you are pregnant due to increase risk of miscarriage and low-birth rate babies. Coffee should also be avoided if you have sleeping problems, if you have cardiac arrhythmias, or if you are just not able tolerate it (such as upset stomach, etc).

For diabetics, coffee may make increase blood sugar. Coffee may increase blood pressure and worsen heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome.


Article written February 2011. Author is not a medical profession. This is opinion and is not medical advice.

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