MIAMI (CBS4) – Coffee lovers can erase the guilt when refilling their mugs.

A new study conducted by University of South Florida researchers found that a mystery ingredient in your morning joe could protect you from developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

Researchers used mice bred with symptoms that mimic Alzheimer’s to conduct their experiments. They found that caffeinated coffee appeared to protect the mice from the degenerative disease.

Scientists say the mystery ingredient in the coffee, combined with caffeine, reduces brain levels of beta-amyloid. That abnormal protein is thought to cause Alzheimer’s to develop.

“Because Alzheimer’s starts in the brain several decades before it is diagnosed, any protective therapy would obviously need to be taken for decades,” said Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors. “We believe moderate daily consumption of caffeinated coffee is the best current option for long-term protection against Alzheimer’s memory loss. Coffee is inexpensive, readily available, easily gets into the brain, appears to directly attack the disease process and has few side effects for most of us.”

USF’s study appears to support previous studies which found that mid-age and older people who drink caffeinated coffee have a decreased risk of developing the disease.

Researchers used coffee prepared in an automatic drip coffeemaker, not instant coffee. They do not know if the same results would occur if instant is used.

There is no recommendation for the amount of coffee consumed.

“We are not saying that daily moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from getting Alzheimer’s disease,” Cao said. “However, we do believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of this dreaded disease or delay its onset.”

The study was funded by the State of Florida and the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. It is set to be published in this month’s Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)


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