Coffee Fix?

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This issue's Special Report on Alzheimer's disease and diet may make you wonder what else scientists are looking at for possible brain benefits. How about coffee?

Researchers at the Byrd Alzheimer Institute in Tampa experimented with mice that were specially bred to develop an Alzheimer's-like disease. The scientists gave some mice just plain water to drink, while others were given water spiked with caffeine--the human equivalent of about five cups of coffee a day. When tested months later, the mice that received only water got confused and lost in mazes, while the caffeine-guzzlers easily found their way out.

The results were published in the Nov. 3, 2006, issue of the journal Neuroscience.

Another study of more than 600 men, published in the Aug. 16, 2006, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that coffee drinkers may be protected from mild memory and thinking problems that come with old age. The least cognitive decline was seen for those drinking three cups of coffee per day.

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