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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Drinking Coffee May Delay Alzheimer’s Disease

Study Adds to Growing List of Health Benefits Associated With Coffee

Coffee May Lower Alzheimer's Risk continued...

"Beta-amyloid doesn't cause Alzheimer's," he says. "We are born with this protein in our brains."

So what goes wrong? This protein accumulates or aggregates in the brain because it is no longer sufficiently metabolized with advancing age. "Your system can't handle all of it and leftover protein accumulates in the brain."

Enter your daily cups of joe. "Caffeine inhibits the production of beta-amyloid, so your system only metabolizes all of the available protein," Cao says.

Put another way: There are no leftovers.

Coffee may have other important health benefits as well. Research has shown that it can reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer.

Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, reviewed the new findings for WebMD. He is the Mount Sinai chair in Alzheimer's disease research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

"There is some support for this observation," he says via email.

"There are basic science studies from our lab and from other labs showing that a substance called cyclic AMP can reduce formation of amyloid, and it is well known that caffeine elevates cyclic AMP levels."

What's more, "attention is a key component of memory, and it is well established that caffeine increases attention. Thus, it is conceivable that caffeine improves memory by virtue of its effects on memory."

But, Gandy adds, the jury is still out on how or if caffeine affects risk for Alzheimer's. "Before we can recommend any drug (even caffeine), we must test the drug in randomized clinical trials. That would be the obvious next step for the caffeine story."

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