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Question

 

Gramps,

I am a member and wonder why the church does not rescind the ban on coffee when scientific studies over the past 20 years have shown that drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of Alzheimers by 65%. So in order for me to reduce my risk of the ravages of the disease I have to commit a sin everyday.  One of the studies is referenced in the August issue of “Real Simple” magazine on page 116.  Do you think the Church will ever rescind the ban?

Jordan

 

Answer

 

Dear Jordan,

I was unfamiliar with the scientific literature over the past two decades regarding coffee and Alzheimer’s. I read the latest study, High Blood Caffeine Levels in MCI Linked to Lack of Progression to Dementia (from Feb 2012) and found it impressive. This was the first study actually performed on humans relying on physical evidence (instead of surveys) to gather data on coffee consumption and the onset of dementia (the MCI in the title refers to the sample set of people with mild cognitive impairment). The study confirmed in humans what has been evident in mice, that high levels of coffee intake can delay or prevent the onset of dementia. Prior studies on mice were able to control for the effects of caffeine only (which proved insufficient), and decaf coffee (which was also insufficient). Only caffeinated coffee did the trick.

Another study came out about 18 months later delineating some tragic side effects of this preventative medicine. Association of Coffee Consumption With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality links the same high-level of coffee consumption to early deaths. Unfortunately, this study is less compelling, as it didn’t control for additional causations in the correlations (for instance, are high-coffee consumers sleep-deprived? Is sleep deprivation the real cause of early death or heart disease?). Be aware that you risk an early death in an effort to hold off Alzheimer’s.

I don’t foresee The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lifting the blanket prohibition on coffee for the sake of Alzheimer’s delay. The Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom to “forewarn” us of the “evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of men” (D&C 89:4). He’s proven to be spot-on with tobacco, and I have faith that He’s correct about coffee as well.

Gramps

 

 

 

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