Caffeine blocks inflammation-induced Alzheimer’s


Let me just start off saying I am addicted to coffee. My name is Ann and I am a coffeeaholic. I am in no way making fun of that very familiar phrase, but I just wanted to add that bit of information because that admission may influence my bias about any articles I read and/or post about caffeine. The fact my mother and grandfather had Alzheimer’s also adds to my bias to find ways to prevent this from happening to me or one of my siblings, children or grandchildren. So – when I find what to me seems to be yet another reason to justify my coffee-drinking habit and at the same time prevent the onset of Alzheimer's,  I’m happy to share that information. The fact is, however, I do limit the amount of coffee I drink every day to no more than 2 cups and often I don’t finish that 2nd cup. I do think I NEED that coffee though and there is little argument that caffeine is addictive – and so is sugar.

This study adds to the evidence that caffeine blocks the inflammation that contributes to brain cell damage, memory loss and ultimately Alzheimer’s Disease.  According to Gregory Freund from the University of Illinois’s Division of Nutritional Sciences: “We have discovered a novel signal that activates the brain-based inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases, and caffeine appears to block its activity. This discovery may eventually lead to drugs that could reverse or inhibit mild cognitive impairment."(1)

This study took a look at the how caffeine affected memory formation in mice with one group being given caffeine and the other group receiving none. Both groups of mice were then subjected to a simulation of interruption of blood flow to the brain and then allowed to recover. Having worked in a critical care unit for many years, I know firsthand how loss of even a short period of blood flow to the brain, as in cardiac arrest, can affect short-term and long-term memory as well as overall brain health. Loss of oxygen to the brain does, in fact, kill brain cells. Interestingly, in this study those mice given the caffeine were able to recover new memory formation 33% faster than the group not given caffeine. The authors of this study suggest that caffeine has the ability to block the inflammation associated with many neurodegenerative diseases.

Without going into a long discourse as to all the negative assumptions and cautions about caffeine, let me just say that as with anything, moderation is always the most important consideration with anything that is potentially addictive. So – for those of us who are already addicted, most studies and nutritionists agree that IF you drink coffee, keep your consumption to 2 cups a day or less. If you don’t already drink coffee, there’s no reason to add another potentially addictive substance to your already complicated life.

Thanks for listening!



 1. G. S. Chiu, D. Chatterjee, P. T. Darmody, J. P. Walsh, D. D. Meling, R. W. Johnson, G. G. Freund. Hypoxia/Reoxygenation Impairs Memory Formation via Adenosine-Dependent Activation of Caspase 1. Journal of Neuroscience, 2012; 32 (40): 13945 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0704-12.2012