Florida researchers have good news for coffee drinkers reluctant to give up their caffeine.
A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease by a team from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami suggests that 3 cups of regular coffee a day may protect against Alzheimer’s disease or at least delay its onset.
Although several studies had previously associated caffeine/coffee intake with a reduced risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease this research provided more direct evidence of the association by measuring plasma caffeine levels.
One hundred twenty four individuals aged 65 to 88 living in the Miami and Tampa areas were followed over a 2 to 4 year period.
Before the onset of the study, caffeine levels were measured in the blood and various neurological tests were conducted to measure cognitive function.
Those individuals who developed dementia by the fourth year had significantly lower initial plasma caffeine levels, while those who did not progress to Alzheimer’s had significantly higher levels - equivalent to 3 cups of regular coffee.
While the study had many drawbacks including the fact that it was a retrospective study of a small number of individuals over a relatively short time period, it does support the protective effective of caffeine found in Alzheimer’s mice. The Florida researchers acknowledge that more studies are needed to determine a true causal relationship.
In the meantime, if you don’t suffer from caffeine-induced insomnia and/or heartburn, there is enough preliminary data suggesting that coffee may also protect against other diseases including skin cancer and Parkinson’s disease to justify continuing to enjoy daily cups of regular coffee.