High Blood Caffeine Levels in Older Adults Staves Off Alzheimer’s Disease

High blood caffeine levels responsible for staving off alzheimer's disease

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
monitored the memory and thinking processes of
people older than 65. It was 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.

High blood caffeine levels responsible for staving off alzheimer's disease
High blood caffeine levels responsible for staving off alzheimer’s disease

Researchers from the University of South
and the University of Miami say the study
provides the first direct evidence that caffeine/
coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of
dementia or delayed onset.
“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, a neuroscientist at the USF
College of Pharmacy.
The study shows this protection probably
occurs even in older people with early signs of the
disease, called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.
Patients with MCI already experience some
short-term memory loss and initial Alzheimer’s
pathology in their brains. Each year, about
15 percent of MCI patients progress to full-blown
Alzheimer’s disease.
Blood caffeine levels at the study’s onset were
substantially lower (51 percent less) in participants
diagnosed with MCI who progressed to dementia
during the two-to-four year follow-up than in
those whose mild cognitive impairment remained
stable over the same period.
No one with MCI who later developed
Alzheimer’s had initial blood caffeine levels above
a critical level of 1200 ng/ml. This is equivalent to
drinking several cups of coffee a few hours before
the blood sample was drawn. In contrast, many
with stable MCI had blood caffeine levels higher
than this critical level.
“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.
“We are not saying that moderate coffee
consumption will completely protect people
from Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Cao cautioned.
“However, we firmly believe that moderate coffee
consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of
Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.”
“Moderate daily consumption of caffeinated
coffee appears to be the best dietary option for
long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory
loss,” Dr. Arendash said. “Coffee is inexpensive,
readily available, easily gets into the brain, and
has few side-effects for most of us. Moreover, our
studies show that caffeine and coffee appear to
directly attack the Alzheimer’s disease process.”
In addition to Alzheimer’s disease, moderate
caffeine/coffee intake appears to reduce the
risk of several other diseases of aging, including
Parkinson’s disease, stroke, Type II diabetes,
and breast cancer.
A study tracking the health and coffee
consumption of more than 400,000 older adults
for 13 years found that coffee drinkers reduced
their risk of dying from heart disease, lung
disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections,
and even injuries and accidents.
I think we all need to make our local barista our
new best friend. Right, Now. ■

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