Could coffee cut Parkinson's risk?

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Coffee consumption

Drinking a whopping ten cups of coffee a day or more could slash
the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by 74 per cent, suggests
a new prospective study from Finland.

The study, from Finland's National Public Health Institute, looked at coffee consumption among 6,710 men and women aged between 50 and 79, and found that drinking lots of coffee could significantly reduce the risk of Parkinson's. However, such doses are considerably higher than the average worldwide daily coffee consumption of one and a half cups, while the US average is more than three and a half cups. Parkinson's disease, named after Dr. James Parkinson, the London doctor who initially identified it as a particular condition, occurs when nerve cells are lost in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra. According to the American Parkinson's Disease Association, over two million Americans currently suffer from Parkinson's. InfoPark, an EU funded information service about Parkinson's disease, has estimated that by the year 2050 there will be over 100 million over 65 year olds across Europe, suggesting that an average four million people will have the disease. The new study, published on-line ahead of print in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition​, followed the volunteers, who did not have Parkinson's at the start of the study, for 22 years. During this time, 101 incident cases of the disease were diagnosed. Coffee consumption was determined using a self-administered questionnaire, and quantified according to the average number of cups drunk per day. After adjusting the results for potential confounding factors, such as age, sex, education, alcohol consumption, physical activity, smoking, body mass index, blood pressure and serum cholesterol, lead researcher Paul Knekt and co-workers report that drinking ten or more cups per day was associated with an 84 per cent reduction in the risk of developing Parkinson's. The association was stronger among overweight persons and among persons with lower serum cholesterol level (P​-value for interaction=0.04 and 0.03, respectively). "The results support the hypothesis that coffee consumption reduces the risk of Parkinson's disease, but protective effect of coffee may vary by exposure to other factors,"​ concluded the researchers. No mechanistic study was performed by Knekt and co-workers, so the researchers could not identify the active agent(s) in the coffee that may be behind the potentially protective effects. Future studies are needed to identify these ingredients, but previous studies have already highlighted potential positive effects on cognitive health from the antioxidant and caffeine content of the bean. Coffee, one of the world's largest traded commodities produced in more than 60 countries and generating more than $70bn in retail sales a year, continues to spawn research and interest, and has been linked to reduced risks of certain diseases, especially of the liver and diabetes. Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ Published online ahead of print; doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602788 "Prospective study of coffee consumption and risk of Parkinson's disease" ​Authors: K Saaksjarvi, P Knekt, H Rissanen, M A Laaksonen, A Reunanen and S Mannisto

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