Posted on Oct 10, 2016, 6 a.m.
Older women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee daily may be at lower risk of dementia, as well as other types of cognitive impairment.
Recent studies conducted by Dr. Kivipelto and colleagues at Karolinska, Kuopio, and Finland universities, suggest that consuming coffee daily can deter the risk of dementia. Dementia and Alzheimer's are the largest causes of neurological damage amongst the elderly. Although caffeine consumption has triggered mixed results in the past, the new study determines that it has positive results in minimizing the effects of dementia. The study consisted of 1,409 participants, aged 65 to 79, whom the study has followed for 21 years. Only 61 of the participants were diagnosed with dementia, and were given low to moderate amounts of coffee each day.
The results from the study revealed that moderate coffee drinkers displayed a 65% decrease in developing both Alzheimer's and dementia later in life. The study included tea drinkers; however, the results showed no direct link to Alzheimer’s or dementia. Dr. Kivipelto stated that the team aims to study the correlation between tea and coffee consumption during midlife. The study is aimed at pinpointing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s in later life because of the uncertainty of the impact of long-term caffeine use, and how it affects the nervous system. Dr. Kivipelto states that it could be decades before a clinical study confirms the pathologic finding, giving the disease time to manifest.
Since millions of people consume caffeine worldwide, the results could provide important information that could ultimately delay or prevent the onset of both Alzheimer’s and dementia. Dr. Kivipelto believes that future studies might confirm the findings of previous studies. It also opens up the possibility that dietary interventions might help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The doctor also added that identifying the mechanisms of how coffee can protect against the disease could play a vital role in the development of new treatment options. The authors know the cause of short- term stimulation of the central nervous system, but it is the long- term effect on the cognitive part of the brain that doctors are unsure about.
The most recent study showed that caffeine protects the brain and cuts the risk of dementia by blocking the damage done to the brain by high cholesterol. The outcome of the study was confirmed when rabbits were fed a rich, high fat diet, while being protected by a caffeine supplement. Scientists explained that the blood brain barrier works as a barrier between the body’s main blood supply and the brain. The barrier acts like a filter by protecting the brain from receiving potentially dangerous chemicals that are found in the bloodstream. Studies have shown that large amounts of cholesterol in the blood can contribute to a leaky barrier. This can trigger or contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
During the study, rabbits were fed a diet high in cholesterol for four months. Half of the rabbits were fed caffeine on a daily basis, which is equal to one cup of coffee. At the conclusion of the experiment, the results showed that the brain barrier remained intact, compared to the rabbits that were not given caffeine.
It appears that caffeine blocks several disruptive effects of cholesterol, and high levels of cholesterol do provide an increased risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The fact that caffeine is safe, available, and inexpensive, means it is highly accessible. This breakthrough could be the missing piece therapists need to help patients fight against neurological disorders. In the future, caffeine could become a common treatment for dementia/ Alzheimer’s.
The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences