Recent studies further support the preventative effect of coffee on neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Stave Off Alzheimer’s
It is estimated that approximately one person in twenty over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Years of research support the suggestion that regular (lifetime) coffee/caffeine intake could lessen memory decline and that coffee consumption may reduce the risk of developing the disease.
A 2009 study from Finland and Sweden, followed 1,400 people for approximately 20 years, and showed that those who reported consumption of 3-5 cups daily were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than non-drinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.
A recent case-control study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found direct evidence that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset, largely for individuals who already show signs of mild memory loss. Furthermore, coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals.
More Good News
Although it is not known precisely how coffee helps impede the development of Alzheimer’s, Chuanhai Cao, PhD., a lead author of the study, theorized that the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque, a protein already present in our brains and the primary characteristic in Alzheimer’s disease, is inhibited by caffeine intake. He goes on to say “moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee appears to be the best dietary option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss”.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. While the average onset of the disease is typically over 60 years, the estimation is that one in ten people are diagnosed before the age of 50, with slightly more men than women affected.
Many credible studies have examined and further demonstrated the health benefits related to coffee, its positive impact and potential protective effect against onset and prevention of the disease. A number of newer studies add to this abundant list of scientific research.
A 2013 report on the effect of various doses of caffeine and the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease proposed that there was a dose-response relationship linked to a maximum suggested level of three cups of coffee per day.
Further, a large (2012) cohort study of U.S. men and women concluded that caffeine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease –a finding that is consistent with previous research. The association was shown to be stronger in men than in women (in particular, women taking hormone replacement therapy).
Results of a recent meta-analysis suggested that a higher caffeine intake was associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease in both genders. However, the possibility of hormone use may alter the PD correlation among women, which should be assessed carefully in future studies.
A Potential Treatment
Recent findings by Canadian researchers from McGill University and published in the American Academy of Neurology garnered interesting results, which suggest that although drinking coffee may not reduce sleepiness for those with Parkinson’s disease, it may prove beneficial in controlling movement. In fact, according to study author Dr. Ronald Postuma “studies have shown that people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, but this is one of the first studies in humans to show that caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease.”
Filled to the Brim!
Evidence remains consistent — your daily cup of coffee is chock full of potential health benefits and moderate intake may reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Further research will be required to further explore this positive connection.
The CAC is committed to providing accurate, scientifically validated information from reputable sources. This website is intended to relay the findings of independent research studies, and is not intended to make health claims or provide medical advice. If you have specific questions pertaining to your health, consult a medical professional.