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New study suggests coffee, reduced MS risk link

3/2/2015

Drinking coffee may be associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis, according to a new study. Researchers reviewing Swedish, U.S. studies found that those who did not drink coffee had about a one-and-a-half times increased risk of developing MS. According to the study authors, caffeine has neuroprotective properties and seems to suppress the production of proinflammatory cytokines, which may be mechanisms that explain the observed association.

Researchers looked at a Swedish study of 1,629 people with MS and 2,807 healthy people, and a U.S. study of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people. The studies characterized coffee consumption among persons with MS one and five years before MS symptoms began (as well as 10 years before MS symptoms began in the Swedish study) and compared it to coffee consumption of people who did not have MS at similar time periods. The study also accounted for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index, and sun exposure habits.

The Swedish study found that compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one-and-a-half times increased risk of developing MS. Drinking large amounts of coffee five or 10 years before symptoms started was similarly protective. In the U.S. study, people who didn’t drink coffee were also about one-and-a-half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop the disease.

“Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain,” said study author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., April 18 to 25, 2015.



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