A new study led by USF researchers says that drinking coffee could delay or prevent Alzheimer's disease. The authors say this is the first time there is direct evidence of the link.
The study was led by University of South Florida researchers, and took place here in Tampa and in Miami.
Researchers found that in adults over age 65, those with higher levels of caffeine in their blood avoided the onset of Alzheimer's in the two to four years they were monitored.
While previous studies have suggested a link between coffee and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's, the authors of this study say that direct human evidence on the topic had been lacking.
"This case-control study provides the first direct evidence that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset," the authors write.
In a media release, the lead author of the study says the findings indicate that coffee intake during adulthood is preventive medicine for dementia later in life.
"The results from this study, along with our earlier studies in Alzheimer's mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer's disease later in life," said lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy.
LINK: Ready the study
There are still questions to be answered, however, and there are no guarantees, the authors say.
"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."
But study co-author Dr. Gary Arendash says that studies show that caffeine and coffee appear to directly attack the Alzheimer's disease process.
"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.
The authors say that 10 million Americans now have some form of Alzheimer's, and as baby boomers age, that number will only continue to increase.
"If we could conduct a large cohort study to look into the mechanisms of how and why coffee and caffeine can delay or prevent Alzheimer's disease, it might result in billions of dollars in savings each year in addition to improved quality of life," Dr. Cao said.
The study is set to be published Tuesday, June 5 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
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