Can Caffeine Prevent Alzheimer's?

By Jerry Baldwin

In a study recently published by the University of South Florida, researchers discovered caffeine's ability to reverse some of the effects of Alzheimer's disease in mice.

What I like about the article is the thorough discussion of method and it anticipates several questions readers might have. In this study the effect is observed in mice not people, but we can be hopeful.

Some studies note an effect of coffee drinking without being able to identify the specific agent within coffee. This study is explicit; it's the caffeine.

What I found most interesting is that the mice were given caffeine, not coffee. Since a cup of coffee has over 1,200 identified compounds in it, some studies note an effect of coffee drinking without being able to identify the specific agent within coffee. This study is explicit; it's the caffeine.

The dose used was the human equivalent of 500 milligrams. They estimate this amount as five eight-ounce cups. As we noted, caffeine varies widely, so it's hard to be certain of dosage, but their estimate holds true for the "average" cup of Arabica coffee.

Thinking of my recent post on decaf, I had hoped that some other agent might be the active ingredient because the liver, which metabolizes caffeine, is adversely affected by age, and Alzheimer patients are usually older; thus, more likely to have their sleep affected.

The researchers tested to see whether caffeine would restore memory function associated with normal aging. Unfortunately, forgetfulness can't be restored with caffeine.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/07/can-caffeine-prevent-alzheimers/21200/