The following has essentially zero impact on my habits, but it is worth crowing about all the same:
A U.S. study has found drinking five cups a day not only protects against Alzheimer’s disease but may even reverse damage.
Scientists at the University of Florida tested the theory on 55 mice bred to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s, giving half the test group caffeine in their water once signs of memory impairment became apparent.
Astonishingly, and to the delight of the cafe latte set, those dosed up on caffeine performed far better on memory tests and thought-related skills than those who were not given caffeine.
“The results are particularly exciting in that a reversal of pre-existing memory impairment is more difficult to achieve,” said study leader Dr. Gary Arendash in a BBC report. “They provide evidence that caffeine could be a viable ‘treatment’ for established Alzheimer’s disease [sufferers] and not simply a protective strategy.”
“That’s important because caffeine is a safe drug for most people,” he added, “it easily enters the brain, and it appears to directly affect the disease process.”
The team believes the application of caffeine has a preventative effect on the production of both the enzymes needed to produce beta amyloid — the protein which forms destructive clumps in the brains of dementia patients.
Those mice lucky enough to be dosed on caffeine showed up to a 50 percent reduction in the damaging protein. Dr. Arendash has called for further tests to see if the results can be replicated on humans.
So, in a sense I can rationalize my Starbucks habit as a preventive health care expense. Incidentally, this is not the first study to suggest coffee’s beneficial effects wrt AD. Here’s a couple papers on PubMed I found when searching for “coffee alzheimer” – the second one is the paper referred to above.
Alzheimer’s disease and coffee: a quantitative review.
Barranco Quintana JL, Allam MF, Serrano Del Castillo A, FernÃ¡ndez-Crehuet Navajas R.
Neurol Res. 2007 Jan;29(1):91-5.
Caffeine protects Alzheimer’s mice against cognitive impairment and reduces brain beta-amyloid production.
Arendash GW, Schleif W, Rezai-Zadeh K, Jackson EK, Zacharia LC, Cracchiolo JR, Shippy D, Tan J.
Neuroscience. 2006 Nov 3;142(4):941-52. Epub 2006 Aug 28.