Study: Coffee may reduce or reverse Alzheimer's disease

diseaseDaily coffee consumption may help delay the progress of Alzheimer's disease or reverse the condition, according to a study in Sunday's online edition the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Drinking coffee has previously been linked to a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's, but this is the first study to suggest that caffeine can directly target the disease itself.

Researchers from the University of South Florida studied 55 mice that had been genetically engineered to develop dementia symptoms identical to those of Alzheimer's as they aged.Alzheimer's occurs when sticky clumps of abnormal protein in the brain called beta-amyloid build up to form plaques, impairing cognitive function.

Half the animals were given a daily dose of caffeine in their drinking water, while the other half continued to drink ordinary water.

By the end of the two-month study, the caffeine-drinking mice were performing far better on tests of memory and thinking than mice given water.

Their memories were as sharp as those of healthy older mice without dementia.The study found that caffeine cut by half the mice's excessive blood and brain levels of beta amyloid."The new findings provide evidence that caffeine could be a viable 'treatment' for established Alzheimer's disease, and not simply a protective strategy," lead author Gary Arendash, a University of South Florida neuroscientist, said in a news release. "That's important because caffeine is a safe drug for most people, it easily enters the brain, and it appears to directly affect the disease process."

The researchers hoped that caffeine could present a safe, inexpensive treatment for dementia and wished to conduct human patient trials as soon as possible."The findings provide evidence that caffeine could be a viable treatment for established Alzheimer’s disease and not simply a protective strategy," said Arendash.

A study in 2002 found that people who consumed caffeine in mid-life were 60 percent less likely to develop the disease.

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