Thursday, February 19, 2009

Coffee is good for the brain


In addition to having a cup of coffee a day is good for your heart, now it's good for your brain, too.


The results, published in this month's issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, need to be confirmed by other studies, and there might be something else about people who drink moderate amounts of coffee that lowers their dementia risk.

But caffeine stimulates brain function. Other studies have shown the "use it or lose it" hypothesis holds when it comes to dementia: The more people engage in mentally stimulating activities, the lower their risk.

Smaller studies have found a link between caffeine and lower risks of developing Alzheimer's. The new study is unique because of its long follow-up time.

Just how coffee might protect the brain isn't known. But the researchers have three theories: One, coffee is a strong antioxidant, and antioxidants "may be important in Alzheimer's pathology," Kivipelto says.

As well, coffee contains substances that are protective of nerve cells. Finally, coffee drinking may reduce the risk of diabetes. People with diabetes have a greater risk of Alzheimer's.

The study doesn't prove cause and effect. But understanding which substances in coffee might protect against dementia could help in the development of new drugs.

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