Drinking coffee may lower risk of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's: Study

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Toronto: Your morning cup of coffee may protect you against developing both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, scientists claim.

Scientists suggest that there could be more to that morning jolt of goodness than a boost in energy and attention.

"Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," said Donald Weaver, from Krembil Research Institute in Canada.

"But we wanted to investigate why that is - which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline," said Weaver.

The team chose to investigate three different types of coffee - light roast, dark roast, and decaffeinated dark roast.

"The caffeinated and de-caffeinated dark roast both had identical potency in our initial experimental tests," said Ross Mancini, a research fellow from Krembil Research Institute.

"So we observed early on that its protective effect could not be due to caffeine," said Mancini.

Mancini then identified a group of compounds known as phenylindanes, which emerge as a result of the roasting process for coffee beans.

Phenylindanes are unique in that they are the only compound investigated in the study that prevent -- or rather, inhibit -- both beta amyloid and tau, two protein fragments common in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, from clumping.

"So phenylindanes are a dual-inhibitor. Very interesting, we were not expecting that," said Weaver.

As roasting leads to higher quantities of phenylindanes, dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.

"It's the first time anybody's investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," said Mancini.

"The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream, or cross the blood-brain barrier," he said.

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