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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 Jerry (6400) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:11PM (#40234479)

    will work just as well?

    If so, why am I so forgetful? I drink two or three cups of tea a day.

    • 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 NEDHead (1651195) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:22PM (#40234641)

        And the Japanese tea has this cool glow-in-the-dark ambiance...

      • I imagine tea plants absorb quite a bit of fluorine too.

        Unless they loose it somewhere. :)

        Yes, I am a spelling Nazi. Get over it.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        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).

        • by TheLink (130905)

          The article says other sources of caffeine had no effect.

          I bet if people drink lots of Coca Cola everyday the odds of them getting Alzheimer's go way down. The higher the dose the stronger the effect.

          Even reduces the odds of dying of cancer.

          • Shame about the diabetes, tooth loss and obesity though.

            Ease back on the sugar, guys.

            • You can drink Diet Coke, instead, which doesn't have the sugar. However, Diet Coke has its own drawbacks. In my case, I get kidney stones. In addition to all the goodness that comes with Aspartame.
          • I bet if people drink lots of Coca Cola everyday the odds of them getting Alzheimer's go way down. The higher the dose the stronger the effect.

            Even reduces the odds of dying of cancer.

            Not to mention reducing the odds of death from auto collision, gunshot, malaria, HIV, ...

          • by rrohbeck (944847)

            I don't know. Blood lipids have an effect on Alzheimer's (how much isn't quite sure) and taking in lots of sugar increases blood lipids quite a bit becasue the liver converts fructose to saturated fatty acids.

        • 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!

        • Roasted coffee starts to get stale after about a week. And is at its peak about 24 hours after roasting. Only a very few coffee houses consistently serve freshly roasted specialty coffee. (Places that serve Counter Culture coffee do a pretty good job.) Vacuum packing roasted coffee does not prevent the deterioration (It helps a bit, but then the coffee stales almost immediately after exposure to air.) Nor does freezing help either.

          The darker roasts served up by the mass market coffee houses are actually

        • Perhaps it's the cigarettes [bbc.co.uk] that go so good with coffee :)-~
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        tea can be dangerous in too large a quantity

        There is little that isn't dangerous in too large a quantity. Even oxygen and water.

    • by m00sh (2538182) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:22PM (#40234647)
      No, tea won't work.

      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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      The article claims 3 cups of coffee a day. Tea has about half the caffeine so you'd be looking at 6 cups a day. No wonder the brits are always taking the piss.

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>No wonder the brits are always taking the piss.

        They're drunk???

      • by canajin56 (660655)
        Actually, it claims 3 cups of coffee within a few hours of the blood test for caffeine levels. Presumably the total daily intake would be much higher than 3 cups of coffee.
        • by Quirkz (1206400)
          Ugh. I like my coffee, but I'm usually happy with two servings a day. Even assuming they meant literal 8-ounce "cups" and not "mugs full of it" I probably don't hit more than 3 cups total, four on a bad day. A pace closer to 9 cups per day would leave me feeling pretty awful.
      • Most of us are so adapted, it doesn't do anything. I went to the US once, where tea was in short supply, and suffered two days of headaches before I realised I was going through caffeine withdrawal and resorted to coffee.
        • The good thing is in my experience in the US they brew coffee as weak as tea so probably not as much a difference as if you were drinking coffee in Turkey say :)

    • by sdguero (1112795)
      FTFA...

      Caffeinated coffee appeared to be the main, if not exclusive, source of caffeine in the memory-protected MCI patients, because they had the same profile of blood immune markers as Alzheimer’s mice given caffeinated coffee. Alzheimer’s mice given caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee had a very different immune marker profile.

      It sounds like there is something unique to coffee in this case. I.e. chocolate or tea won't cut it.
    • by DaveAtFraud (460127) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @02:05PM (#40235275) Homepage Journal

      From TFA:

      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.

      Cheers,
      Dave

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      No, this was in the news a few weeks ago. It isn't the caffiene, it's some other compound or mixture of compounds in coffee. Decaf works as well as caffeinated, and Coke, Pepsi, Red Bull and tea don't have the effect at all.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:12PM (#40234481) Journal
    Truly, drugs are nature's hugs.(and parasitic filarial nematodes are nature's psycho abusive stepparents...)
  • Spice (Score:5, Funny)

    by Megane (129182) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:17PM (#40234561) Homepage
    It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java the thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
  • Small Sample? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:19PM (#40234587)

    124 people in the study is pathetic. Why wouldn't they get a bigger sample size for a study like this? Not like it should be difficult. Apparently a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine included over 400,000 older adults in similar study.

    • by leuk_he (194174)

      Agreed, but it can be even worse. The study does not give a cause reason that this happens. It just show 2 factors that correspond. Some other factors might even cause this. e.g. some of the people with Alzheimer do not drink coffee because their health is too bad for if, or the medicins they use do not allow coffee. Or the shakes coffe gives them causes them not to drink coffee. I do not know.

      Without a cause reason this makes great headlines, but is only a very tiny to do with resolving the disease.

      AN

    • Re:Small Sample? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jpate (1356395) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:46PM (#40235051) Homepage
      Yeah! There's no way that trained scientists would be able to calculate reliable a difference is given a certain sample size with an observed variance! That's just wayyyy too hard. The only way to do real science is to get 400,000 data points for every comparison; it's the only way to be sure.

      In all seriousness, huge sample sizes are only important if we are comparing several variables, where a large sample size can give us good estimates for rare combinations of events, and/or small effects, where a large sample size allows us to achieve small confidence intervals over the relevant comparisons. It's quite possible for a sample size of 124 to yield a significant difference for one effect if the effect is of at least moderate size.
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        However, significance is only accurate if you propose a hypothesis BEFORE you collect data, or you account for the number of hypotheses that you COULD have tested when you started hunting for correlations.

        If you ask 100 people for a list of everything they do and eat and everything wrong with them, and find a correlation, I don't care what test you claim you've done, it isn't going to truly be significant.

        If you want to determine if caffeine prevents lung cancer, survey 100 people and just ask about caffein

        • by jpate (1356395)

          However, significance is only accurate if you propose a hypothesis BEFORE you collect data, or you account for the number of hypotheses that you COULD have tested when you started hunting for correlations.

          Wagenmakers et al (2011) [commonsenseatheism.com] make a similar but slightly different point. The important thing is to distinguish between exploratory studies and confirmatory studies. In an exploratory study, hypotheses are based on correlations found after gathering data, while in a confirmatory study, the examined hypotheses are planned in advance. Both are important. Without confirmatory studies, exactly your point criticism applies, but, without exploratory studies, non-intuitive insights are difficult to come by.

          This

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          It's quite possible to correct for multiple comparisons when you're doing a study, careless researchers just don't do it.

          A proper clinical trial is one of the most reliable forms of data. Real clinical trials are registered, including their hypothese and analysis methods, so that you can't get away with testing a bunch of things and forgetting to mention all the ones that didn't work out.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        I'm reminded of the statistical rule of thumb that "infinity" (as in, when a t-distribution becomes essentially the same as a z-distribution) is about 45 (42 if you're a Douglas Adams geek).

    • by sdguero (1112795)
      There have been dozens of studies over the last 5 years confirming this finding. This one jsut had more information on the exact level of caffeine in people's systems.
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Well, we don't all have infinite funds. There are also ethical issues: it's unethical to use more subjects than you need.

      124 is pretty good for a study to identify an effect. I imagine these guys are biochemists who are after the active ingredients, not population health specialists who want to make recommendations for the general public.

  • Besides correlation != causation, did they actually determine that those individuals with reduced Alzheimer's risk were actually consuming more caffeine? Higher blood caffeine levels does not necessarily indicate higher caffeine intake, any more than a person with high blood alcohol levels - who happens have to have slow alcohol metabolism - can be said to be drinking more alcohol than others.
    • FTFA

      "“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."

      100% is a extremely strong correlation....

      • by canajin56 (660655)
        They drew a post hoc line. The line is DESIGNED so that nobody above it got Alzheimer's. So it's interesting that its possible to draw such a line, but the "100%" part isn't interesting at all. To talk about significance we have to know how many people total were above the line. According to TFA, 15% of people with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer's. If only 20 out of those 124 people were above the line, the expected number result is that 3 of the heavy drinkers would get Alzheimers, so 0 isn't as stron
  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:30PM (#40234781)

    Who are you, why are you here?

  • Sure caffeine possibly could, by itself, prevent Alzheimers.
    But I would say a far more likely reason for the correlation is the correlation between drinking a good amount of coffee and being active and exercising your brain on a daily basis.

  • by tool462 (677306) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @01:40PM (#40234945)

    ... SMBC [smbc-comics.com] ;)
    Had you for a second there, didn't I?

    It's not that caffeine prevents Alzheimer's, caffeine dilates time itself. We live a lifetime of productive bliss in only a few moments. Why else do non-coffee drinkers never appear to age? In what feels like 60 years for us, only a short time passes for them. They look younger because they are younger. But, they also live long enough to get Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer. In a twist of irony our lives are shorter but our years are longer. We looked to the internet for the Singularity, but we should have looked inside. The Singularity is us.

  • My grandfather, major coffee drinker, died from Alzheimers.

    And despite the coffee I consume, I'm already noticing my memory slipping and fading. Of course it doesn't help I was already dead twice back in 2007.

    • And my grandfather recently died at the age of 103, after a lifetime of smoking, drinking, getting hardly any exercise, and eating crappy food. None of which means that these are recommended practices for extending your lifespan. The plural of "anecdote" is not "data."

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Gee. I wonder if there could be anything else that could cause you to have memory problems. Hmm, what could it be? I'm having trouble remembering myself too.

  • Yeah! I'm saved!
  • then I might forget the next morning's cup, then I'm totally screwed.

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