Mice with Alzheimer’s Should Not Drink Coffee

We have reported numerous health benefits from drinking coffee. Included in our reports was one entitled Forget Your Alzheimer’s and Drink Your Coffee.

Research carried out at the University of South Florida implies that it may be time to forget your Alzheimer’s and drink your coffee. Alzheimer’s disease is the condition seen often in old age in which a person is unable to remember recent events. It is also the stuff of jokes about every time a person in mid-life or older forgets something.

The scientists at South Florida studied a strain of mice that has been bred to get Alzheimer’s disease, or at least the mouse variety. These critters develop high levels of beta amyloid in their brain and then the plaques inhibit nerve transmission. These are the same findings that researchers see in humans. Because mice live shorter lives than humans, old age comes sooner. Thus scientists can see sooner if whatever they have been doing to the mice has had an effect. Now these folks have been having their little research subjects drink coffee.

Results

The result of that study was this.

Coffee is a natural for this purpose. Caffeine and something else in coffee reliably reduce beta amyloid levels in the brain of mice.

That is to say the damaging plaques that seem to lead to the Alzheimer’s equivalent in mice are reduced by drinking coffee.

So, if drinking coffee is likely to reduce the precursors of Alzheimer’s we should drink coffee. Right?

But, now researchers have studied mice that already have the mouse equivalent of Alzheimer’s. And they have found that consuming the equivalent of what would be 5 cups of coffee a day worsens symptoms in the rodents.

And, if grandpa already has Alzheimer’s he should not drink coffee. Right?

Applying Mouse Research to Humans

Is it a valid assumption that what applies to mice will apply to humans as well? To make sense of this we looked online at an article in Science: How Things Work.

The mouse’s DNA looks startlingly like ours; in fact, we share more than 90 percent of the same genes as a mouse.

But dogs and pigs are more closely related to us. But people are uncomfortable sacrificing large numbers of these animals in the name of science.

Mice might not be the closest animals to us genetically, but they are one of the closest that we feel comfortable using in studies.

And mice mature faster so that researchers can test various treatments and get results in a year or two instead of waiting a dozen or more years in other animals of six to eight decades in humans.

As a practical matter mice are easier to study and the studies produce quicker results. But, there is not a one to one correlation between people and rodents. Thus, it might provide useful insight to look at how mice with Alzheimer’s react to coffee but a more reliable way to test this is to give Grandpa a cup of coffee or two and see how he does. In the case of drinking coffee the results are virtually immediate so the mice do not give us anything useful in terms of an early result.


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