USF study: Coffee lowers risk of Alzheimer's in older adults

TAMPA - He delivers dozens of packages every day at University of South Florida Health but three years ago, Ernesto Zota started to forget the names of the people he delivers to.

"Every day it would get more and more and more and more," said Zota.

66-year old Zota has Alzheimer's, a disease one in eight older Americans is diagnosed with.  At USF Health's Byrd Alzheimer's Institute, one researcher believes drinking coffee can lower your risk for developing the disease.

"It's not going to be magic, totally stop it. It's going to delay, prevent or delay.  There's a difference.  It's not a cure," said Dr. Chuanhai Cao.

Dr. Cao just published a new study about caffeine levels in blood.  The neuroscientist says patients 65 years or older who drank three cups of coffee a day avoided onset Alzheimer's. The new study reports that caffeine and an unknown coffee component boost blood levels of critical growth factor that fights off the disease.

The findings will be published in an online version of a June 5 article from The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The study included 124 people, ages 65 to 88, who live in Tampa and Miami. 

Read the report at http://health.usf.edu/nocms/publicaffairs/now/pdfs/JAD111781.pdf

"If you are not a coffee drinker, you start.  Pick up a cup of coffee.  You'll going to feel benefit," he said.

It's not protection but the USF and University of Miami study suggests drinking coffee can reduce your risk. USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute CEO Dr. David Morgan says we need more clinical trials research.

"This study is just one of several that are supportive but that's all they are and I don't know if I would start taking in the caffeinated drinks or caffeine pills in hopes that it's going to provide the same protection. We still need to do the detailed clinical trials to iron out where the truth is," he said.

Zota says drinking coffee has helped him. He's still working full-time delivering packages and he believes it's three cups a day that have improved his memory.

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