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    Drinking Coffee: Cons And Pros

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    Did you know that 3 cups of coffee a day bring a huge positive effect to your brain and body? Well, according to researchers from Finland and Sweden, they really do. Drinking coffee in moderate amounts in your mid-life improves the work of human brain and reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in seniors, the new study states.

    In the January edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease the experts wrote that those who consume between three and five cups of coffee per day have a lower risk for later development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease compared to those who drink little or do not drink coffee at all. The scientists decided to study the connection between coffee and tea drinking in midlife and the development of late-onset dementia or Alzheimer's "because the long-term impact of caffeine on the central nervous system was still unknown." Alzheimer's and dementia are characterized by several symptoms which include loss of memory, quick changes in mood and behavior and, impaired judgment or reasoning.

    The facts were based on the study of 1,409 people in Finland, who have been repeatedly interviewed over more than 20 years. Their coffee and tea-drinking habits have been recorded when they were in their 50s. Then the participants were divided into three groups: low coffee drinkers (up to 2 cups per day), moderate coffee drinkers (three - five cups per day), and heavy coffee drinkers (five cups and more per day). 15.9 per cent of the study subjects were low coffee drinkers, 45.6 per cent - moderate coffee drinkers, and 38.5 per cent were heavy consumers of the coffee. In 1998, when the participants were between the ages of 65 to 79, their memory functions were tested again. The results showed that the risk of developing the diseases for moderate coffee-drinkers was lowered by between 60 to 70 per cent in later life, compared with those of the low coffee drinkers. From all, according to the researchers, 61 people by that time developed dementia and 48 - Alzheimer's.

    "Given the large amount of coffee consumption globally, the results might have important implications for the prevention of or delaying the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease," Miia Kivipelto, a lead researcher of the University of Kuopio, Finland and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said, "The finding needs to be confirmed by other studies, but it opens the possibility that dietary interventions could modify the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease." The scientist also said it still remains unclear exactly how or why moderate coffee drinking helped to delay or to avoid the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's, but made an assumption that it can be connected with the strong antioxidants that are present in the coffee, which are believed to fight Alzheimer's. "We know from some of the previous studies that coffee helps to protect the nerve system, which can also protect against dementia", explained M. Kivipelto, saying that yet other researches show that coffee also protects against diabetes, which is known to be linked to Alzheimer's.The study also noted that drinking of tea did not help to reduce the risk of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. But at the same time, tea drinking did not increase the risk for either condition.

    However, coffee is not always beneficial to health. One of the other latest studies has revealed that excessive coffee drinkers can end up developing hallucinations. Scientists from the University of Durham in Britain, discovered that healthy people who intake more that 7 cups of instant coffee per day are 3 times more likely to hallucinate than those who drink just a single cup. "This is the first step toward looking at the wider factors associated with hallucinations," said Simon Jones, a psychologist who led the research.

    For the study Simon Jones and colleagues asked 200 students about their typical consumption of coffee, tea, energy drinks, and other products containing caffeine. Stress level of the participants was measured as well. As a result, young people who drank the most caffeine drinks reported much more hallucinatory experiences, such as seeing visions, hearing voices, etc. "This is the first time to my knowledge caffeine and hallucinations have been looked at," Jones said, "And our next step is to test whether caffeine is actually causing hallucinations or whether people who have them simply consume more caffeine when under pressure." Researchers say that ability of caffeine to increase the effects of stress may explain the results. When human body is under stress it releases a hormone called cortisol, which, in its turn, is produced in greater quantities after the intake of caffeine. The extra cortisol in organism leads to hallucinations. At present, people who are being treated for hallucinations, take medication or receive professional counseling, but Jones said the goal of his research is to explore whether changing a person's diet could help as well.

    There's also some evidence from previous studies that coffee may help manage asthma and even may control attacks when medication is unavailable, stop a headache, boost mood, and even prevent cavities in teeth. "Overall, coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful," says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies, who leads its own medical research and tracks coffee studies all over the world. "For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good."

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