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expert reaction to report on coffee consumption and Alzheimer’s risk

A report by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee has explored the link between Alzheimer’s disease and coffee consumption, suggesting that coffee may have a protective effect.


Prof. Gordon Wilcock, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Geratology, University of Oxford, said:

“This is one of a number of studies suggesting that a dietary factor, in this case coffee, may help with Alzheimer’s. However cohort studies such as this generate hypotheses but don’t prove them. The only way to be certain of the beneficial effects of coffee would be to undertake a blinded clinical trial, which would be impossible to do.

“This research seems to relate to dementia, not Alzheimer’s specifically, and it is counterintuitive to find that it only appears to have an effect in the short term.”


Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research, Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“The evidence is not conclusive that drinking coffee will help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Some research suggests that caffeine and antioxidants in coffee may be beneficial but studies in people show mixed results – more research and clinical trials are needed to see if positive effects occur in people over the long term.

“There is no single way to reduce your risk of dementia. Exercising frequently, as well as eating a healthy balanced diet, avoiding smoking, not drinking in excess, and managing other health conditions can play a role in reducing your risk of dementia.”


Prof. John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience, UCL, said:

“This type of study needs both replication and assessment for the possibility/probability of confounding variables to do with other aspects of lifestyle.”


Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research, Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Although some studies have suggested a possible link between coffee consumption and lower dementia risk, there is currently not enough evidence to be able to draw firm conclusions about its effects. Many studies that have investigated these links have been observational studies, which are not able to tell us definitively whether coffee can prevent or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. While many of us enjoy a cup of coffee now and again, we’d need to see clinical trials to know whether the drink could prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

“With half a million people currently living with Alzheimer’s in the UK and that number set to increase, we must invest in research to find ways of preventing the disease. In the meantime, current evidence suggests that we can lower our risk by eating a healthy, balanced diet, doing regular exercise, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure and weight in check.”


‘Good things in life: can coffee consumption reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease?’ by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee published on Thursday 27 November 2014.


Declared interests

None declared

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