Does Caffeine Decrease Your Risk of Alzheimer's Disease?

That Cup of Coffee and Its Caffeine Might Protect Your Brain from Dementia
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Interested in knowing how to prevent Alzheimer's disease? Me, too. There are many ideas on how to prevent Alzheimer's, or at least reduce your risk of dementia. A couple of interesting thoughts out there are that caffeine is beneficial for the functioning of your brain and that you're less likely to develop Alzheimer's if you drink coffee. Here's what research says about these ideas.

Is Caffeine Good for Your Brain?

Several studies have been conducted to try to determine if caffeine affects the brain.

Although some have involved animals instead of humans, there are likely some benefits that may transfer to humans. Here are summaries of a few of them.

  • One study I reviewed was published in the Neurology journal in 2007. It involved 4,197 women and 2,820 men. Cognitive ability was evaluated at the start of the study, after two years and after four years. The study found that women who consumed more than three cups of coffee or tea performed better on the cognitive testing than women who consumed less caffeine. Men in this study showed no differences in cognition related to the amount of caffeine they consumed. Interestingly, they didn't measure caffeine that might be consumed in soda pop or cocoa because the population they studied didn't consume a significant amount of either one of those substances.
  • Another study published in 2009 found that caffeine not only reversed the presence of Alzheimer's pathology in the brain (including amyloid-beta protein levels) but also reversed the memory impairment that the mice had shown since developing a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
  • In a study outlined in 2011, researchers found that moderate amounts of coffee provided some protection not only for people against Alzheimer's disease but also for cardiovascular disease.
  • The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published research in 2013 that concluded that rats with dementia experienced a reversal of memory impairment and of the brain changes associated with dementia when caffeine was added to their drinking water.

    Caffeine Linked to Lack of Progression to Alzheimer's in People with Mild Cognitive Impairment

    Caffeine consumption has also been correlated with cognitive stability. People with mild cognitive impairment are at a significant risk for progression to Alzheimer's disease. However, in a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in 2012, researchers found that no participants with a high level of caffeine in their blood experienced a progression of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease.

    Should You Start Drinking Coffee?

    If you're not a coffee drinker, perhaps you're wondering by now if you need to be. While research on the health benefits of coffee and its caffeine are encouraging, you should consider asking your physician before you take up this habit since there are some conditions that might not be a good combination with coffee. 


    European Journal of Neurology. 2002 Jul;9(4):377-82. Does caffeine intake protect from Alzheimer's disease?

    Neurology August 7, 2007 69:536-545. The neuroprotective effects of caffeine: A prospective population study (the Three City Study)

    Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 20 (2010) S1–S2. Therapeutic Opportunities for Caffeine in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders.

    Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Volume 17, Number 3 / 2009. Caffeine Reverses Cognitive Impairment and Decreases Brain Amyloid-β Levels in Aged Alzheimer's Disease Mice.

    Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 30 (2012) 559–572. High Blood Caffeine Levels in MCI Linked to Lack of Progression to Dementia.

    Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. 2013 Jan 1;34(2):509-18. Caffeine consumption prevents memory impairment, neuronal damage, and adenosine A2A receptors upregulation in the hippocampus of a rat model of sporadic dementia.

    Molecular Medicine Reports. 2013 Sep;8(3):737-40. Chronic caffeine treatment reverses memory impairment and the expression of brain BNDF and TrkB in the PS1/APP double transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.

    Toxicological Research. 2011 Mar;27(1):7-10. Possible health effects of caffeinated coffee consumption on Alzheimer's disease and cardiovascular disease.

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