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Coffee May Decrease Chances of Alzheimer’s Disease

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A new study suggests that coffee consumption reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Credit: Julias Schorzman, CC BY 2.0

A new study suggests that coffee consumption may decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The study, which was published on November 19, sheds light on the mysterious disease, for which there is no cure as of now. While coffee does not mitigate or fight Alzheimer’s like some medications do, the study found that people with no memory loss who also drank larger than average amounts of coffee were at less of a risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which is considered a pre-stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

“With Alzheimer’s disease, there’s currently a lack of any effective disease-modifying treatments. Our research group is specifically looking at modifiable risk factors that could delay the onset of the disease, and even a five-year delay could have massive social and economic benefits,” said lead author Samantha Gardener, who is a research fellow at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia.

“Worldwide, a high proportion of adults drink coffee every day, making it one of the most popular beverages consumed,” Gardener added. The popularity and ubiquitousness of coffee could make it a viable method of deferring the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. But she also stressed that further studies are necessary. Gardener and her team are not yet sure what ingredient in coffee itself contributes to the delaying of Alzheimer’s.

“This is, obviously, preliminary data and it needs a lot more research before being recommended, but it’s really positive, and hopefully in the future, it can be incorporated as a modifiable lifestyle factor that can delay Alzheimer’s disease onset,” Gardener said.

Coffee increases mental awareness while decreasing amyloid build-up

The study did not create control groups between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and it is not clear whether caffeine’s effect on energy and attention are responsible for delaying the disease. The study also found that more coffee consumption decreased the buildup of amyloid protein, a destructive substance in the brain.

Adding one or two cups of coffee to your day has the potential to decrease cognitive decline by 8% over the course of a year and a half, while simultaneously decreasing amyloid build-up by 5%, Gardener said.

“We couldn’t in this research find the maximum number of beneficial cups, so there will be a point where you can’t just have five cups and continue to get more beneficial effects. That’s something for future research as well, to find the ideal number of cups of coffee to have these positive effects,” she added.

Dr. Howard Fillit, founding executive director and chief science officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation — which partially funded Gardener and her team’s work — said that the study sheds light on the preventative potential of coffee:

“I think we continue to find really interesting ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, and it’s a very exciting time in the field. I think this is probably, in my read, one of the most well-done studies of coffee and its prevention of cognitive decline and dementia that I’ve seen so far.”

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