September 14, 2007, Newsletter Issue #125: Can Coffee Protect Against Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease?

Tip of the Week

You might grab that last to-go cup of coffee because it will help you through the morning meeting but there might be longer lasting benefits of coffee. A coffee health study has indicated that drinking coffee might provide some protection against Parkinson’s disease, at least in men. There is also a study that caffeine can offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Sally Vater, speaking at a symposium, Coffee: Breaking News about Health, Fitness and Performance, said men who drank more than three cups of coffee per day showed reduced incidence of Parkinson’s.

Women did not have the same results. Vater said postmenopausal women who take hormone supplements could cause for less dramatic results in women because of the interaction of caffeine and estrogen.

The reasons coffee could protect against Alzheimer’s, she said, are coffee’s antioxidant component and the fact that caffeine interacts with brain receptors.

Vater says that while data supports the idea that caffeine in coffee can help protect against the disease, it is not definitive.

The National Parkinson Foundation agreed that the study was not conclusive and that the protective effect should be studied further. The Alzheimer’s Society said research suggesting protective powers has been conducted on a small sample and more research must be done.

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