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Caffeine May Help to Prevent Alzheimer's

Two studies in the July 2009 issue of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease show that the equivalent of five cups of coffee a day reverses memory loss in mice with Alzheimer's disease. The coffee also reduced blood and brain levels of beta-amyloid,the abnormal protein that may cause Alzheimer's disease in mice and people. Other studies by the same researchers at the University of Florida show that caffeine lowers blood levels of beta-amyloid in elderly non-demented humans, and when given in early adulthood, prevents memory loss in mice bred to develop Alzheimer's disease in old age. Previous studies on rabbits also showed that caffeine may help to prevent Alzheimer's.

Researchers at the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Committee plan to start studies in humans to evaluate whether caffeine can prevent memory loss of early Alzheimer's disease. Other experiments by the same group show that caffeine may prevent memory loss by blocking the enzymes that make beta amyloid.

The amount of caffeine in two to five cups of coffee (200 to 500 milligrams) is probably safe, but more than five cups a day may cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability, nausea, anxiety, a fast or irregular heartbeat, headaches, breast pain or muscle tremors. People who have high blood pressure or narrowed arteries leading to the heart may be advised to restrict caffeine. However, the Nurse's Study showed that heavy coffee drinking is not associated with increased risk for high blood pressure. Unfiltered coffee raises blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels after eating. Pregnant women are advised to restrict caffeine since it may cause miscarriage or low birth weight.

Many studies show that caffeine can improve mood, alertness and energy, prevent diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver cancer, decrease the risk of stroke and may help prevent skin cancer. It also increases endurance in athletes.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How can I get rid of numb hands while I'm cycling?

Loss of feeling in your hands is caused by compressing the nerves underneath skin in the palms against the handlebar. Try these tips from RoadBikeRider

• Move your hands frequently. Choose a handlebar that give you several different comfortable positions for your hands.
• Raise your handlebar to the height of your seat to shift your weight off your hands.
• Make sure your seat is level or tilted slightly upward. A tilted- down nose causes you to slide forward which puts more pressure on your hands.
• Wear gel gloves and place gel pads underneath the tape on your handlebars.
• Try a flat handlebar. Round bars exert greater pressure on the nerves in your hands.
• Add an aerobar to give yourself an additional hand position.
• Make sure your gloves are not too tight.

If none of these solutions help, check with your doctor. Numbness can be caused by nerve damage from lack of B12, diabetes, etc; or by compression (a pinched nerve in the neck, shoulder, elbow or wrist).

RoadBikeRider sends an excellent free weekly newsletter; you can subscribe at


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can I do anything to relieve statin-related muscle pain?

If you develop muscle pain while taking statin drugs (Crestor, Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol), check with your doctor. On rare occasions, the damaged muscles raise blood levels of myoglobin that can damage the kidneys. The pain can go away by lowering the dose or stopping the drug, or switching to another drug. A recent study shows that CPK, the test that doctors use to confirm muscle damage, is often normal in spite of microscopic evidence of severe muscle damage (Canadian Medical Association Journal, July 2009).

Muscle pain with statins is rare in people who do not exercise. It affects two to five percent of exercisers and is very common in competitive athletes or people who exercise intensely (American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, July 2009). Athletes train by taking a hard workout, damaging their muscles and feeling sore on the next day, then taking easy workouts until the soreness goes away. On statins their muscles remain sore so workouts that would normally require a one day recovery can take several days. Some athletes cannot recover from hard workouts until they stop taking statins.

Many people with high cholesterol levels can bring them to normal just with diet and lifestyle changes.


Recipe of the Week:

Trail Mix Bars

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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