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Medicine

Coffee Consumption Strongly Linked To Preventing Alzheimer's 205

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the eight-cups-a-day-keeps-the-mind-sharp dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Those cups of coffee that you drink every day to keep alert appear to have an extra perk — especially if you're an older adult. A recent study monitoring the memory and thinking processes of people older than 65 found that all those with higher blood caffeine levels avoided the onset of Alzheimer's disease in the two-to-four years of study follow-up. Moreover, coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals."
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Coffee Consumption Strongly Linked To Preventing Alzheimer's

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  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:18PM (#40234579)
    If I remember correctly, tea will only achieve half the concentration of caffeine that coffee will. Of course, tea has many other benefits, such as protection against cancer, and neuroprotective effects (even some protection against lead poisoning). You should, however, keep in mind that tea can be dangerous in too large a quantity; tea plants absorb quite a bit of Florine from the soil, and lower-quality, older tea leaves can have very high concentrations (these are what you get with Lipton etc.). Japanese teas tend to have less Florine because of the low Florine levels in Japanese soil, and white tea has lower concentrations because the leaves are so young.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:27PM (#40234727)

    If it is caffeine, then I guess you could conceivably get the same benefit from chocolate. However, given the amount of caffeine in even the darkest chocolate, you would need to eat so much of it that you would likely die from diabetes long before you had to worry about Alzeheimers. TFA talks about people who drink 3 cups of coffee per day, which would equate to around 300-350mg of caffeine, which would be around a 1/3 to 1/2 a pound of very dark chocolate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:46PM (#40235053)

    However, given the amount of caffeine in even the darkest chocolate, you would need to eat so much of it that you would likely die from diabetes long before you had to worry about Alzeheimers. TFA talks about people who drink 3 cups of coffee per day, which would equate to around 300-350mg of caffeine, which would be around a 1/3 to 1/2 a pound of very dark chocolate.

    You'd probably die of Theobromine poisoning [wikipedia.org] far before the onset of diabetes. The darker the chocolate, the more cacao, the less sugar.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:56PM (#40235169)

    The article says other sources of caffeine had no effect. So it's probably not the caffeine but some other coffee component. (Or maybe just the hot water.) Personally I'd rather eat dark chocolate than drink coffee (ick).

    Yes, this is perhaps the important quote from the article:

    Since 2006, USF’s Dr. Cao and Dr. Arendash have published several studies investigating the effects of caffeine/coffee administered to Alzheimer’s mice. Most recently, they reported that caffeine interacts with a yet unidentified component of coffee to boost blood levels of a critical growth factor that seems to fight off the Alzheimer’s disease process.

    The interaction between the caffeine and the coffee component appears to produce something that is highly beneficial. Maybe it can be identified and synthesized and patented and sold in pill form. On the other hand, coffee is so cheap that it could be the generic version for those of us who don't mind drinking it.

    Load up on SBUX stock! Doctors will be prescribing three cups a day and insurance will be paying for it!

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:49PM (#40235785)

    They didn't do a random test, say "oh hey look coffee did something lets make wild conclusions". They worked from mice studies, the most recent in 2006, then specifically did a human test by taking people with minor cognitive impairment (which often progresses into Alzheimer's), they tested them for their blood caffeine levels, and looked for further cognitive decline. What they found was that in mice with Alzheimer's, coffee prevented further mental decline. And, in those mice, there was a specific and identifiable immune response connected with this effect. What they also found was that decaff coffee produced neither the protective effect, nor the correlated immune response. And caffeine alone or from other sources did not have this effect, either. This new 4 year study took patients and looked at their blood caffeine levels, and found that those who drink a lot of coffee had the SAME identifiable immune response as the mice did, and that this immune response is also strongly correlated with protecting from further mental decline in humans.

    So, if you weren't paying attention, this isn't a correlation study, that isn't "conclusion section speculation". There's an identifiable response, they know this identifiable response doesn't occur with decaff, or with non-coffee caffeine sources, so they conclude it is some combination of caffeine with some unknown agent in coffee. But the actual response is identified. The correlation is not between coffee and Alzheimer's per se, but between Alzheimer's and this specific immune response that is almost certainly triggered by coffee, because although it's hard to do a controlled experiment with people, it's not hard to do with mice! And they did. Six years ago.

    At any rate, what they don't know is what other chemical is causing this, how this response is protecting against cognitive decline, and if having smaller amounts of coffee will have a lesser effect, or be just plain ineffective. (Some people have quoted 3 cups of coffee per day, but TFA says 3 cups of coffee shortly before being tested, which would indicate a lot more than 3 cups per day total)

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