An Italian study has suggested that a cup of coffee a day could reduce an individual's risk of developing Alzheimer's.
It has emerged that moderate levels of caffeine in the blood could protect the brain against the amyloid proteins that end up destroying neurons and causing memory loss. The study, which included 1,500 Italians, found that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) was halted by moderate coffee consumption.
However, the research did also suggest that having two or more cups of coffee may actually put someone at risk of the condition, doubling the rate of MCI compared to those who would just have one cup. The individuals looked at were aged between 65 and 84 and they were followed for an average of 3.5 years.
Dr Vincenzo Solfrizzi and Dr Francesco Panza, of Bari Aldo Moro University in Italy, said: "These findings from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Ageing suggested cognitively normal older individuals who never or rarely consumed coffee and those who increased their coffee consumption habits had a higher risk of developing MCI."
This follows previous research that had suggested caffeine consumption in tea and coffee could prevent mental decline, with amyloid clumps having reduced in mice that had been genetically engineered to develop dementia. Caffeine has also been seen to improve insulin sensitivity and so reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
The research team will now have to carry out further neuroimaging studies to better understand how caffeine is linked to Alzheimer's. At the moment, there may be various potential bias and confounding sources, so it is crucial that extensive research is carried out.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
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