Daily Dose of Caffeine May Cure Alzheimer's Disease
A daily dose of caffeine could slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease and may ever cure the condition, according to researchers.
A study on mice suggests that caffeine can suppress the degenerative processes in the brain that cause confusion and memory loss.
While a 2002 study found that mid-life adults who consumed coffee were 60 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer's, this new study is the first to suggest that caffeine targets the disease itself.
Alzheimer’s occurs when sticky clumps of abnormal protein in the brain called beta-amyloid build up to form plaques, impairing cognitive function. But mice with a rodent equivalent of the disease showed a 50 per cent reduction in levels of amyloid protein in their brains after scientists spiked their drinking water with caffeine.
The change was reflected in their behavior as they developed better memories and quicker thinking. In the study, published today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers from the University of South Florida studied 55 mice that had been genetically engineered to develop dementia symptoms identical to those of Alzheimer’s as they aged. Before treatment the mice, which were aged 18 to 19 months — about 70 years in human terms — had performed poorly in the memory tests.
Half the animals were given a daily dose of caffeine in their drinking water — equivalent to a human consuming about six espresso shots or 500mg of pure caffeine — while the other half continued to drink ordinary water. By the end of the two-month study, the caffeine-drinking mice were performing far better on tests of memory and thinking than mice given water. Their memories were as sharp as those of healthy older mice without dementia.
Researchers hope caffeine can be used as a safe and inexpensive treatment for dementia. Professor Gary Arendesh, who led the research, said he hopes to begin human trials as soon as possible.
He said that a 500mg dose of per day would be safe for most people, with little side effects.
Getting perked up
How to get 500mg of caffeine a day:
2 x 250mg caffeine pills
3 x large espresso-based coffees
6 x cans of Red Bull
14 x cans of Coca-Cola
15 x cups of tea
7kg (16 lb) of chocolate
Source: US Food and Drug Administration, University of South Florida