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Coffee and Caffeine Help Prevent Alzheimer's (alphagalileo.org)
59 points by emeraldd on June 6, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments



Reading the paper, it appears that there is, indeed, a statistical & effective difference between the coffee/caffeine drinking set and the non-drinking set.

It's also worth noting that these trials were targeted at senior citizens.

It appears they did check vs. aging effects.

However, there are limitations:

We also did not ask participants when their last caffeine intake was prior to coming in for the initial visit/blood sample. As well, we did not ask subjects about their long-term caffeine/coffee intake habits, although it is likely that subjects with high plasma caffeine levels are habitual/moderate coffee drinkers. Additionally, complete data on ApoE status, education level, ethnicity, dietary habits, and lifestyle choices were not available for all study participants, so none of these can presently be eliminated as contributory to the results observed. Finally, the follow-up time of 2–4 years was relatively short for establishing causality and reverse causation (i.e., subjects with poorer cognitive performance may have reduced caffeine/coffee intake) is possible.

Essentially, they sampled twice and compared cognitive capabilities. However, there appears to be a existing body of knowledge indicating there is a strong linkage.

http://health.usf.edu/nocms/publicaffairs/now/pdfs/JAD111781...


"Additionally, complete data on ApoE status, education level, ethnicity, dietary habits, and lifestyle choices were not available for all study participants, so none of these can presently be eliminated as contributory to the results observed."

Background on ApoE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apolipoprotein_E#Alzheimer.27s_.... I'd be interested to see how participants' ApoE status relates to these results.


"We found that 100 percent of the [mild cognitive impairment] patients with plasma caffeine levels above the critical level experienced no conversion to Alzheimer’s disease during the two-to-four year follow-up period"

These are truly amazing results, in my opinion.

Alzheimer’s mice given caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee had a very different immune marker profile.

I wonder what makes the combination of coffee and caffeine different than either of them individually.

A study tracking the health and coffee consumption of more than 400,000 older adults for 13 years, and published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that coffee drinkers reduced their risk of dying from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even injuries and accidents.

I find the decrease in injuries and accidents particularly interesting. My guess is that it's because coffee makes us more alert, but I'm still surprised it can make such a difference.

About a week and a half ago I gave up drinking coffee due to the withdrawal symptoms I experienced if I went a day without it (fatigue, headaches). It feels a lot better not to be addicted, but now I'm not sure whether I should resume.


`It feels a lot better not to be addicted, but now I'm not sure whether I should resume.`

I feel the same way. Skeptical of this research after the wine/resveritol controversy. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120501134209.ht...

And Spain's research into the benefits of alchohol: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8367141.stm

Would less than three cups a day work as well?

`I wonder what makes the combination of coffee and caffeine different than either of them individually.`

Caffeine and antioxidants? Grounds for more research for sure.


FTA: "Alzheimer’s mice given caffeine alone or decaffeinated coffee had a very different immune marker profile."

> @hendler: "Grounds[sic] for more research for sure."

I fresh grind coffee beans for each cup, with a coffee maker that has a bean bin, so it's not convenient to swap types of beans.

To control caffeine intake while enjoying coffee, I use decaf beans, and take an aspirin+caffeine tablet with the first cup of decaf but not with subsequent cups.

This lets me regulate caffeine, gives me the RDA of aspirin, and lets me enjoy as many cups as suits a given morning without risk of jitters.

That said, I can certainly understand why the researchers would think to check caffeine alone vs decaf alone, while not checking caffeine + decaf. I suspect my use case is unusual.


> Grounds for more research for sure.

I'm surprised the seriousface brigade on HN hasn't lynched you for saying that in a thread about coffee.


Coffee also apparently prevents prostate cancer to some degree too: http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20110517/coffee-ma...

For your own safety, go make some now.


It takes me about a week to lose the withdrawal symptoms. I do it once in a while, partially to let my system relax a bit and to reduce my tolerance for the stuff.

Still, it's not addictive, and I certainly noticed my lower performance without the stuff than with. A reasonable tradeoff I think.


"About a week and a half ago I gave up drinking coffee due to the withdrawal symptoms I experienced if I went a day without it (fatigue, headaches). It feels a lot better not to be addicted, but now I'm not sure whether I should resume."

You do realize that that thought pattern is probably influenced by your psychological addiction, which you really cannot say you got rid of in a week?

I should know, I go through it every third month or so :) Sometimes I have gone for a month without coffee, but always that idea, "it's not so bad, everyone's doing it and there's health benefits" pops back. I don't know why we don't call it a (marvellous) drug, really.


Observational studies are not reliable to draw conclusions however. It can give you hints, but its not science.

ANd I would not give too much credit to the present study described here, the sample size is so limited (less than 200) that it's not even remotely significant.

Modern clinical studies on Al-Zheimer recruit several thousands participants over the span of several years, with appropriate medical follow up. Observational studies are the equivalent of qualitative studies in consumer researches...


How have they proven causality? Coffee intake can be effected by other lifestyle choices. It's not unreasonable to suspect that people tend to drink coffee because they want to do perform better mentally.

For instance, a study of the cross section of the participants of this study against those who do regular mental exercise (Sudoku, balancing the checking account, playing cards) which induce caffeine intake, would be interesting.


As interesting as these results are, I don't want to play the game of keeping score of what foodstuffs, activities etc. cure and cause various illnesses. I will try to have a balanced diet and keep active in mind and body. Beyond that, I have yet to be convinced that power playing my lifestyle according to such research papers as happen my way would provide a statistically significant improvement to my long-term quality of life.

I hope doctors are able to make more effective use of these results than I am.


My dad has been a huge coffee drinker his entire life - He was recently been diagnosed with early onset alzheimer's. Obviously this doesn't rebuttal any large-scale scientific study, but this topic is of particular closeness to me.


Best wishes to him and the rest of your family.


I appreciate it, thank you.


my grandmother drank 3 pots of coffee a day for over 50 years. it did nothing to help her alzheimer's. I haven't seen any causality in this study.


I'm sure one could find an anecdote to counter almost any statistical finding. I'm not convinced such an exercise means anything.


Three pots of coffee is ridiculous. It's a nice anecdote, but who's to say that much coffee doesn't have the adverse effect of smaller amounts?


Does Alzheimer's run in your family?

My mom drinks at least 3 big cups of tea daily. There's no way she doesn't have Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. Although her mother had Alzheimer's also, so maybe caffeine isn't enough to overpower genetics.

I wonder if tea has the same effect as coffee in this case. They both have caffeine.


It was mentioned that the affects of caffeine or decaf coffee alone don't seem to do the same work as caffeinated coffee.


How do you know that her Alzheimer's wouldn't have set in sooner if she hadn't drank the coffee?


The study was over a short period. It's possible that coffee just significantly delays the onset.


The article specifically stated that the effect could be to delay onset.


Was it decaf?


A minimum of three cups of caffeinated coffee daily for these results. I would never sleep again, even with Ambien. I don't believe it....some one's promoting coffee?!?! And I guarantee there's a lot of money being paid by the coffee industry.


Correlation does not imply Causation

http://xkcd.com/552/


Am I the only one to find a research saying coffee is good for xxxx one day and after a month another research comes and says coffee is bad for xxxx because ...


Coffee keeps winning.


No P-value?


Devil's advocate: Are we sure these studies aren't somehow paid for by the coffee industry?


From the article:

The USF-UM study was funded by the NIH-designated Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the State of Florida.

Presumably these government agencies have records of the grant proposals and funding criteria.

I would also guess that this experiment will be independently valided by other research groups. That may have happened already to some degree. You could find out by examining the manuscript once it comes out. I note with approval that this news aggregator has thoughtfully provided complete bibliographic information.


COFFEE! The life's blood of any IT shop!


After having just read that Nestle has paid The American Diabetes Assoc. to say that there is no correlation between sugary sodas and candy to Diabetes; and that Dannon, and Kraft Foods, are in bed with the Dairy Industry, I'm very suspicious that the coffee industry is funding these researchers at FSU. (I'm a certified plant based nutritionist....eye-opening, to say the least!)




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