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Coffee intake linked to decreased risk of multiple sclerosis

Coffee may reduce risk of MS

A new study suggests that coffee consumption can reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis.


Study author Dr. Ellen Mowry, assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins, and her colleagues analyzed the data from two separate population-based case-control studies -- a Swedish study and an American study -- that looked at the link between coffee intake and multiple sclerosis.

The Swedish study consisted of 1,629 people with MS and 2,807 healthy people. The U.S. study consisted of 1,159 people with MS and 1,172 healthy people. Both studies recorded coffee consumption among people with multiple sclerosis between one to five years prior to the onset of symptoms. The Swedish study also looked at the coffee intake of participants with MS 10 years before symptoms began.

The Swedish study found that participants who did not drink coffee in the year prior to the onset of symptoms were about one and a half times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis, compared to those who drank six or more cups a day. They also recorded a protective effect against MS in the participants who drank large amounts of coffee at five to 10 years prior to the onset of symptoms.

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Researchers from the U.S. study found that the participants who did not drink coffee in the year prior to the onset of symptoms were also approximately one and a half times more likely to develop MS compared to those who drank at least four cups a day.

"Caffeine has neuroprotective properties and seems to suppress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which may be mechanisms that explain the observed association," the U.S. researchers said.

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in April.

The symptoms of multiple sclerosis include numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, partial or complete loss of vision, tingling or pain in different body parts, and tremor or lack of coordination. The cause of MS is unknown, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues.

Multiple sclerosis isn't the only disease that coffee may help protect against. Past studies have shown that men and women who increased their daily coffee consumption by one over a four-year period had an 11 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not increase their intake. Daily coffee consumption may also reduce the risk of death from cirrhosis, and reduce the risk of liver cancer and Alzheimer's. A recent study conducted by researchers from the Imperial College London also found that women who drink three to four cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of endometrial cancer by 18 percent.