A new study backs up previous claims that coffee is beneficial to our health. While mouse studies have indicated that drinking a few cups of coffee daily may be one way of protecting against Alzheimer’s disease, a collaborative study involving University of Southern Florida College of Pharmacy and University of Southern Florida Health Byrd Alzheimer’s confirms the beneficial effect in a study using human participants.
The study monitored memory and thinking processes of a group consisting of 124 people, ages 65 to 88. In the group studied, those with higher blood caffeine levels were more likely to avoid the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the two-to-four years of follow-up. Coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for the people in this group.
An article titled High Blood Caffeine Levels in Older Adults Linked to Avoidance of Alzheimer's quotes study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy:
“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”
The USF study suggests that the protection afforded by coffee most likely is effective even in older people with early signs of potential dementia called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. The article stated that blood caffeine levels at the beginning of the study averaged 51 percent less in participants diagnosed with MCI who progressed to dementia while they were followed.
A paper on the study was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Study co-author Dr. Gary Arendash says that, “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.”
The researchers think that caffeine interacts with an unidentified component in coffee that boosts blood levels of a critical growth factor that may fight off Alzheimer’s.
Coffee drinkers also have lower risk for other diseases
According to the article, a study that followed the coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults over the span of 13 years and published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine found that coffee drinkers “reduced their risk of dying from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents.”
Evidence is building that coffee provides many benefits to the human body. While some people don’t like coffee or can’t drink it for various reasons, those of us who already drink coffee should be able to enjoy the beverage knowing that we are likely doing something positive for our health.