Does Drinking Coffee Reduce The Risk of Alzheimer’s?
January 16, 2009 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

This week I read the following headline:  Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer’s

Does this headline surprise you? Do you believe it?

I immediately thought of something I read years before warning of the dangers of drinking coffee and other scientific research documenting the deleterious health effects resulting from heavy caffeine use. How do we deal with apparently conflicting material? Where is the balance? The first place to start is with the facts, so let’s examine what this new study found.

The study was conducted in cooperation with the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease January 2009. It was based on repeated interviews with 1,409 people in Finland over a two decade period.

The study found that those in middle age who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease lowered by 60 to 65 percent later in life. The study did not document why this benefit was found but speculated it might be related to the strong antioxidants contained in coffee. How does this balance with other information that coffee may not be healthy for us?

The benefit of coffee drinking found in this new study is most likely due to its high antioxidant effects. The harmful effect of coffee, documented in other scientific literature and written about by some Christian authors, is referring to the “stimulant” effects of the coffee, which would be related to the caffeine contained in the coffee. And to support this conclusion, the day before the Finnish-Swedish research results surfaced a separate study published by psychologists at Durham University showed a link between heavy coffee drinking and hallucinations, which is consistent with the caffeine effect.

What are the take home points from today’s blog? 1) Think for yourself. Don’t let some other person do your thinking for you. 2) Be balanced, use moderation in all things, use reason and good judgment and 3) in this case drinking de-caffeinated coffee in moderate amounts may be the most healthy option for the brain.

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.
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