Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day could help to
significantly lower the risk of suffering Alzheimer's disease, a new study has
The study by 'The Institute for Scientific Information on
Coffee' emphasizes the role nutrition can play in preserving cognitive
function, particularly during the preclinical phase of Alzheimer's before
full-blown symptoms of dementia occur.
The study adds that compounds called caffeine and
polyphenols can also be responsible for this protective effect - and these
compounds are found in coffee in high quantities.
Dr Arfran Ikram, an assistant professor in neuroepidemiology
at Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam, said: "Regular coffee consumption
over a lifetime is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's
Disease, with an optimum protective effect occurring with three to five cups of
coffee per day."
The study was originally presented at the Alzheimer Europe
annual conference in Glasgow last month and the Institution has published its
final conclusions on Thursday.
The international conference heard that moderate consumption
of coffee was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia over a four
years test period - by up to 20 per cent. However the effect diminished over a
longer follow up period.
The scientists said caffeine helped prevent the formation of
amyloid plaques and neurofibrulary tangles in the brain - two major
contributors for Alzheimer's Disease.
In addition, both caffeine and polyphenols reduced inflammation
and reduced the deterioration of brain cells - particularly in the hippocampus
and cortex, areas of the brain involved in memory.
Dr Iva Holmerova, vice chairman of Alzheimer Europe, said:
"The findings presented in this report are very encouraging and help to
develop our understanding of the role nutrition can play in protecting against
Alzheimer's Disease. Coffee is a very popular beverage enjoyed by millions of
people around the world and I'm pleased to know that moderate, lifelong
consumption can have a beneficial effect on the development of Alzheimer's
She added: "Cognitive decline is a feature of aging,
and though some changes can be expected in all of us, there is some indication
that diet and lifestyle may be linked to cognition. In fact epidemiological
researches reveal that certain lifestyle factors and nutritional elements,
including the consumption of coffee, may help to slow age-related cognitive
decline seen in the older people."
However, experts warn that the evidence that drinking coffee
will help to protect against Alzheimer's disease was still not conclusive.
"Some research shows that caffeine and antioxidants in
coffee may be beneficial but studies in people show mixed results - more
research and clinical trials must be conducted to see if positive effects occur
in people over the long term," they said.