By David Liu, PHD
Wednesday July 3, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) — A new study published on June 5, 2012 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests drinking coffee with caffeine may help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or prevent the disease.
Researchers from the University of South Florida (NSF) and the University of Miami conducted the case control study and found high blood caffeine levels were associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. And coffee was found to be the only source of caffeine in the participants of the study.
“These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee — about 3 cups a day — will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease — or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” said study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao of the USF College of Pharmacy and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.
“The results from this study, along with our earlier studies in Alzheimer’s mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer’s disease later in life.”
The study of 124 people ages 65 to 88 in Tampa and Miami showed patients diagnosed with mildcognitive impairment whose condition had progressed to dementia during a 2-year follow-up had significantly lower blood levels of caffeine.
On the other hand, no one with mild cognitive impairment who had initial blood caffeine levels above a level of 1200 ng/mL later developed Alzheimer’s disease. The level was equivalent to drinking several cups of caffeinated coffee a few hours before the blood sample was taken.
Also many with stable mild cognitive impairment were found to have serum caffeine levels higher than 1200 ng/mL.
“We found that 100 percent of the MCI patients with plasma caffeine levels above the critical level experienced no conversion to Alzheimer’s disease during the two-to-four year follow-up period,” said study co-author Dr. Gary Arendash.
Although the study did not seem to examine the source of caffeine used by the study participants, USF posted a press release saying that coffee may be the only source for these study participants.
However, the study did not say whether tea may be as effective as coffee as tea has caffeine as well.
Parmar Namita of Kumaun University in Uttarakhand in India and colleagues green tea made of Camellia sinensis reported in 2012 in Global Journal of Pharmacology that although no epidemiological evidence in human studies suggests that green tea helps fight Alzheimer’s disease, several animal and laboratory studies did suggest that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) from green tea may have an effect on potential targets associated with Alzheimer’s disease progression.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is deadly and affects an estimated 6 million Americans. This disease often strikes people ages 65 or older.