Coffee May Reduce the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimers, a study finds [VIDEO]
A new study showed how caffeine helps ward off the harmful effects of stress and "plaque" build-up in the brain through NMNAT2, an enzyme produced by the brain. Researchers observed how caffeine raised the brain's ability to produce the enzyme.
NMNAT2 was shown to fight the accumulation of a misfolded protein called tau, which is associated with debilitating neurodegenerative diseases, the International Business Times reports. Protein build-up leads to the death of nerve cells.
The team of researchers from Indiana University screened 1,280 compounds and identified 24 including caffeine that increased the level of NMNAT2 in the brain. Caffeine was tested on genetically-modified mice that produce low levels of the enzyme. Results showed that the mice produced the same level of the enzyme as regular mice, according to the Daily Mail.
The findings did not seem very surprising to the scientists involved in the project.
There have been various studies looking into the health benefits of coffee. Earlier work investigating the effects of caffeine demonstrated its link to having a lower risk of dementia. Tests being done on mice with Alzheimer's produced results consistent with the new study.
In the U.S., statistics show that over 4 million Americans live with dementia. Dementia is a set of symptoms marked by impaired cognitive abilities.
Patients with dementia have damaged brain cells due to various conditions. The most common causes are neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's.
Alzheimer's disease costs U.S. healthcare billions of dollars and will probably stretch to over a trillion in a few decades, higher than the costs for heart disease and cancer. It is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
Further research based on recent studies with coffee could lead to developing drugs that create a blockade, protecting the brain from neurodegenerative diseases.