Coffee Drinking May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's

January 19, 2009

Coffee Drinking in Mid-life May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer's in Older Years

Drinking between three and five cups of coffee per day during your middle years may lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease as much as 60 to 65% later in life, according to a study recently released in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

The study, based in Scandinavia, surveyed participants in several studies over more than two decades. Some 1,409 individuals ages 65 to 79 were part of the follow-up studies and only 61 had dementia and only 48 had developed Alzheimer's disease. The participants were queried about their coffee drinking habits and memory function when younger and in a similar way some 20 years later. As other studies have concluded, researchers believe it is the naturally-occurring antioxidants in coffee that diminish the development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in coffee-drinking people.

The aim of this study was to study the long-term impact of caffeine on the central nervous system and the pathologic processes leading to Alzheimer's disease, said lead researcher Miia Kivipelto. We now believe the pathologic processes leading to forms of dementia may begin decades before clinical manifestation. Because of the ubiquitous presence of coffee drinking throughout the world, she surmised, the study results might have important implications for the prevention of, or delaying of, the onset of dementia/AD, she added. New therapies for these conditions could be developed if we fully understand the mechanisms by which coffee protects again these diseases, she said. Ms. Kivipelto is an associate professor at the University of Kuopio and the Karolinska Intitutet.

For the study, coffee drinking fell into three groups: zero to two cups per day; three to five cups per day, and more than five cups per day. The lowest risk (65%) was found among those drinking three to five cups of coffee per day.

The conclusions were initially published in the Finnish Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Dementia (CAIDE) Study conducted by researchers at the University of Kuopio in Kuopio, Finland, the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland.

The 1,409 participants were survivors from the North Karelia Project and the FINMONICA Study in 1972, 1977, 1982, and 1987 and the final follow up was in 1998.

Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2009, "Midlife Coffee and Tea Drinking and the Risk of Late-Life Dementia: A Population-based CAIDE Study" by Marjo H. Eskelinen, Tiia Ngandu, Jaakko Tuomilehto, Hikka Soinen, and Miia Kivipelto.