A study which monitored the thinking and memory processes of people over the age of 65 has found that all individuals with higher caffeine levels had avoided the start of Alzheimer’s disease in the 2 to 4 years of the study follow up. Coffee seemed to be their main or only source of caffeine. The researchers claim the study offers the first direct evidence that caffeine, or coffee intake, is linked to a lower risk, or delayed onset of dementia.
The results indicate that older adults having mild memory impairment who consume moderate levels of coffee, around 3 cups per day, are not going to progress to Alzheimer’s disease, or otherwise will experience a considerable delay before progressing to Alzheimer’s. The results from this study are consistent with earlier studies in Alzheimer’s mice in suggesting that moderate daily coffee consumption throughout adulthood could protect against Alzheimer’s later on in life.
The research shows this protection most likely occurs even in people with early signs of Alzheimer’s, called mild cognitive impairment. Patients having mild cognitive impairment are already experiencing some degree of short term memory loss and initial Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Every year, approximately 15% of patients with mild cognitive impairment progress to Alzheimer’s. The study focused on participants having mild cognitive impairment, due to the fact many were most likely going to develop Alzheimer’s disease in just a few years.
At the start of the study, blood caffeine levels were 51% lower in participants identified as having mild cognitive impairment who progressed to Alzheimer’s over the 2 to 4 year follow up compared to those whose mild cognitive impairment stayed stable throughout the same period.
Nobody who had mild cognitive impairment that later on developed Alzheimer’s had initial caffeine levels above a critical level equal to having a few cups of coffee several hours before the blood sample was taken. In comparison, many who had stable mild cognitive impairment had higher than critical blood caffeine levels.
It was found that 100% of the mild cognitive impairment patients having caffeine levels above the critical level experienced no progression to Alzheimer’s throughout the 2 to 4 year follow up time period.
Caffeinated coffee seemed to be the major, if not only, source of caffeine in the memory protected patients, since they had the identical profile of blood immune markers that Alzheimer’s mice given caffeinated coffee had.
The researchers believe that moderate coffee consumption can significantly reduce risk or delay onset of Alzheimer’s.