Washington: Drinking coffee every day can do more than just keeping you alert – especially if you’re an older adult.A recent study monitoring the memory and thinking processes of people older than 65 found that all those with higher blood caffeine levels avoided the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the two-to-four years of study follow-up.And coffee appeared to be the major or only source of caffeine for these individuals.Researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami said the case control study provides the first direct evidence that caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset.The collaborative study involved 124 people, ages 65 to 88, in Tampa and Miami.“These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee -- about 3 cups a day -- will not convert to Alzheimer’s disease -- or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer’s,” said study lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF College of Pharmacy and the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.“The results from this study, along with our earlier studies in Alzheimer’s mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer’s disease later in life,” Dr. Cao stated.The study showed this protection probably occurs even in older people with early signs of the disease, called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.Patients with MCI already experience some short-term memory loss and initial Alzheimer’s pathology in their brains. Each year, about 15 percent of MCI patients progress to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.The researchers focused on study participants with MCI, because many were destined to develop Alzheimer’s within a few years.
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