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Does Coffee Make Alzheimer's Worse?

Do you love a cuppa? A new study by the Institute of Neuroscience of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona has found contrary to other studies, coffee could in fact worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms in people who already have the disease.
Published in Frontiers in Pharmacology journa, the study suggests that long-term caffeine consumption could negatively impact the neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Specifically, it can heighten anxiety, fear of new things, and emotional flexibility – among other symptoms.

How was the link discovered?

The study was conducted on mice, some who were ageing normally and some who developed familial Alzheimer’s disease in a similar way to humans. Björn Johansson, researcher and physician at the Karolinska University Hospital, explains:
“We simulated a long oral treatment with a very low dose of caffeine (0.3 mg/mL) equivalent to three cups for a human coffee-drinker.”
The team found that while caffeine changed behaviour in the healthy mice, it worsened neuropsychiatric symptoms in the mice with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s and coffee contradiction

Google ‘coffee and Alzheimer’s’ and you’ll find reams of articles on the apparent benefits of caffeine on people with the disease.
So why does this latest study contradict all that?
Firstly, previous studies only linked coffee with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The latest research looked at the link in test subjects that already had the disease – and found that coffee may worsen the symptoms.
So what’s the take away?
“While health benefits of caffeine and coffee are increasingly recognised, there are also notable reports of adverse effects of especially high-dose caffeine, including a case report of psychotic symptoms in a patient with dementia,” the authors state.
“Our study adds to the evidence for caffeine and other adenosine-receptor blockers have (sic) distinct physiological effects. Some ways to deal with these multi-effects are to optimise the dose, to use active substances in coffee other than caffeine, and to use synthetic drugs modelled after caffeine, such as subtype-selective adenosine receptor antagonists, rather than caffeine itself.”

A dietician or nutritionist can provide you with personalised advice about your coffee and caffeine intake.

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