Can a Cup of Joe Help to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
For many years now we have been hearing conflicting information about the effect caffeine has on our bodies. It’s often difficult to know what to think about having a morning cup of joe! One of the benefits often discussed is whether or not it might be helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the University of Miami and the University of South Florida think it just might play a role. Findings from their research study were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease this past summer.
What researchers discovered was that those with lower levels of caffeine in their blood were more likely to develop dementia, while moderate coffee drinkers saw dementia delayed or prevented. For purposes of the study, moderate caffeine use is considered to be three cups of coffee per day. 124 people ages 65 to 88 participated.
Why do researchers think coffee helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
Researchers can’t say for sure. Their working theory is that caffeine keeps Beta-amyloid, one of the proteins found in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease, from accumulating. It forces the body to keep metabolizing this protein, essentially blocking it from collecting in the brain.
As with most good things, however, physicians warn there are negatives. While some research shows that caffeine can also help to reduce the risk of breast cancer, strokes and Parkinson’s disease, there are some known dangers. Excessive caffeine use can contribute to cardiovascular disease. It can cause a rapid heartbeat, an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. The risk between heart disease and coffee consumption occurs when you have a particular gene mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in your body. The Mayo Clinic experts warn that the gene mutation is a fairly common one.
So what is the bottom line on coffee?
Most researchers say “drink up”! For most of us, they believe the benefits outweigh the negatives.