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Coffee and dementia

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I’m not a big coffee drinker but I understand that that puts me in a small minority. Most people love coffee. And while there has been a longstanding debate about the health consequences of consuming large amounts of coffee, a new study suggests that coffee has properties that help stave off neurodegenerative disease, including dementia and Parkinson’s.

Elisabet Rothenberg is associate professor at Kristianstad University in Sweden and the lead author of the study in question. According to her, “Research suggests that a higher intake of coffee and caffeine, up to 5 cups of coffee per day, could act as [a] preventative on risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s disease.”

Five cups of coffee a day sounds pretty excessive to me. And bear in mind that study was conducted by The Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, which has ties to large coffee producers in Europe. That inevitably calls into question the credibility and integrity of the findings.

Other experts are more circumspect.

Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, dietitian and author Keri Gans said other studies have found a similar link, but that the issue is far from settled.

“There have been some scientific studies that have found a relationship between coffee consumption and a delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s,” Gans said, adding, “However, more research is needed.”

The Alzheimer’s Society is not exactly convinced, arguing that “the results cannot distinguish between cause and effect” in many cases.

So the debate about the health merits of coffee continues. Past studies have found links between coffee intake and a lower risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, a recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that six or more cups of coffee per day increases your risk of heart disease by as much as 22 percent. This may be due to the popular habit of loading up coffee with cream and sugar.

Either way it seems safe to assume that the cliche “everything in moderation” applies to coffee as well. After all, I believe coffee falls under the rubric of “everything.”