IT Pro Nightmare: Coffee Intake Linked To Alzheimer's - InformationWeek

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IT Pro Nightmare: Coffee Intake Linked To Alzheimer's

Increasing your coffee habits later in life can be very dangerous, according to a recent study. No need to panic, we have some options for you.

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Your servers might run on electricity, but we all know your data center really runs on coffee. Coffee by the venti cup. Coffee by the gallon. Coffee by the giant cardboard box.

Well, I've got bad news for you java-guzzling IT folk. A study done in Italy has shown a link between coffee drinking and Alzheimer's disease.

I'll let that sink in for a minute:

Better? Need more time?

OK, before you go too crazy, the problem lies in increasing the coffee use as you age. Of course, who among us doesn't drink more coffee as we age? Especially since the news about coffee was so good for a while, with studies showing positive health benefits?

[ A few months ago, we learned coffee helps you live longer. Read IT Pros: Live Long and Eat Your Coffee Cup. ]

The study followed 1,445 Italians aged 65 - 84. Those who consistently drank one or two cups of coffee per day throughout their lives had a normal, or perhaps even lowered, risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the beginnings of Alzheimer's. Those who had started drinking coffee late in life, and those who increased their coffee intake as they aged, faced 1.5 to 2 times more risk of MCI.

So, a moderate amount of coffee is still good, but let's face it, most of us don't consume a moderate amount of coffee. That Starbuck's you get every day is usually more than one cup of coffee by the standard definition. A cup of coffee is 6 fluid oz. Even a Starbuck's short (and who orders the short?) is 8 oz. So the tall is two cups. And a lot of us don't stop there.

Let's face it, most of us have a caffeine addiction. And to get the continued "hit" for our addiction, we increase our intake to keep making up for it. Don't believe me when I say you're addicted? We've all been right here:

So what are we supposed to do about it? Go cold turkey? Nope. You can still have your cup or two. Maybe avoid the venti. If you want to keep measuring your coffee intake by the cup, and not by the IV bag, Livestrong has some interesting suggestions. Swap the extra coffee for a steak.

OK, not really, but you create energy and focus with B vitamins and protein. You can get those from lean meat, eggs, nuts, and whole grains. It sounds dull, but a breakfast with whole-grain toast and eggs might help you keep the coffee intake to a cup or two. Remember when we all ate that for breakfast? At least in the movies.

Also, a lot of high-volume coffee drinkers get dehydrated from all that caffeine. Swapping one of your cups of joe for a big glass of water doesn't sound fun, but might help.

I know, I'm offering water and eggs as a replacement for your triple venti soy no-foam latte, or your venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato, extra shot, light ice, no whip. There really is no substitute. At least I didn't insult you by talking about herbs. And hey, we're talking about your brain's health. Like everything else, we're finding a little bit is OK and a lot is bad. Whatever you can do to get there, I suggest you do it before you forget how you like your coffee.

(Image: Britta Gustafson via Flickr)

(Image: Britta Gustafson via Flickr)

What do you think? How much coffee do you drink? Do you find it is increasing? Does this kind of information concern you? Let's meet over coffee and talk about it in the comments section below.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/31/2015 | 11:12:38 AM
Re: Stupid assumptions
@riffy1- I think it is fair to say "cause" is too strong a word. But I don't think the idea that the coffee is compensating for the beginning of Alzheimer's is necessarily correct because increased drinking was linked to MCI. One would expect no effect or an increased covering from more use if it was just covering the existing effect. the fact that more leads to a noticable increase of MCI in my mind (and if I'm reading the report correctly) seems to mean there is a link to increased coffee use and MCI.
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