A powerful Alzheimer's fighter could be right in your mug.
A new study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that an antioxidant called EGCG, which is found in green tea and red wine, is able to stop amyloid-beta proteins -- known to play a role in Alzheimer's -- from attaching to and killing brain cells in a lab setting.
The study is based on the notion that amyloid proteins form ball-like clumps, which are not uniform in size. These amyloid clumps then bind to the outer proteins of brain cells and kill them. However, the researchers wanted to see if changing the shape of the amyloid clumps -- by applying EGCG-- altered their ability to bind to the brain cells.
Sure enough, they found that the EGCG could change the shape of the amyloid proteins. And because of that, the amyloid proteins no longer bound to the cells.
Even though the study was conducted in a lab setting and has yet to be proven in humans, "this is an important step in increasing our understanding of the cause and progression of Alzheimer's disease," study researcher Nigel Hooper, a professor at the University of Leeds, said in a statement.
These findings are released at the same time as another study in the journal Neurology, showing that the number of people with Alzheimer's could triple by 2050, MyHealthNewsDaily reported.
"It will place a huge burden on society, disabling more people who develop the disease, challenging their caregivers and straining medical and social safety nets," study researcher Jennifer Weuve, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Rush Institute for Healthy Aging, told MyHealthNewsDaily.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, though there are some medications that can help to stave off the thinking problems associated with the disease, including cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine, according to the Mayo Clinic.
CORRECTION: A previous version of the headline for this article had an incorrect spelling of the green tea compound EGCG. It has been corrected.