For coffee drinkers, the news on the humble bean’s health benefits just keeps getting better and better. The latest: University of Illinois researchers have linked consumption of caffeinated products to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and identified the mechanisms at work.
"We have discovered a novel signal that activates the brain-based inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and caffeine appears to block its activity,” said Gregory Freund, a professor in the University of Illinois College of Medicine and a member of its Division of Nutritional Sciences. “This discovery may eventually lead to drugs that could reverse or inhibit mild cognitive impairment." ALERT: 5 Signs You’ll Get Alzheimer’s Disease
Freund's team examined the effects of caffeine on memory in laboratory studies involving two groups of mice — one given caffeine, the other receiving none. The results showed caffeine-treated mice had better memory skills than the non-caffeine group.
The scientists also found caffeine had a potent anti-inflammatory effect, reducing the risks of cognitive impairments seen in Alzheimer’s patients, he said.
"We feel that our foot is in the door now,” Freund added, “and this research may lead to a way to reverse early cognitive impairment in the brain.”
Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health.