Coffee Might Have Protective Effects Against Parkinson’s Disease, According to New Research

New research has found that coffee consumers have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to individuals not drinking coffee. This study, published in Neurology, was conducted using longitudinal data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study, which aims to explore the relationship between nutrition and noncommunicable diseases. The study involved over half a million individuals from 10 European countries, recruited between 1992 and 2000.

The researchers analyzed data from a substudy of EPIC that focused on Parkinson’s disease called EPIC4PD, which included 184,024 participants from Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Italy. Participants completed a dietary questionnaire that included questions on coffee consumption, smoking, alcohol consumption, education level, and physical activity. The study found that 308 men and 285 women developed Parkinson’s disease (less than 1%), with 93% of participants reporting drinking coffee. Coffee consumption was highest among participants from the Netherlands (around 500 milliliters per day) and lowest in Italy and Spain (around 100 milliliters per day).

The 25% of participants with the highest coffee intake were nearly 40% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease compared to participants who did not drink coffee at all. When all coffee consumers were compared to participants not drinking coffee, the risk reduction ranged between 63% and 5% depending on the country. The association between Parkinson’s disease and coffee consumption was approximately equally strong in men and women, but seemed to be slightly stronger among people who never smoked.

The study demonstrated an inverse association of caffeinated coffee consumption with the risk of Parkinson’s disease in one of the largest longitudinal cohorts worldwide with more than 20 years of follow-up. The neuroprotective effects of coffee were exposure-dependent, and individuals in the highest coffee consumption group had nearly 40% lower risk of PD compared with non-consumers.

This observation was strengthened with a comprehensive evaluation of prospectively measured plasma caffeine and its metabolites, showing strong inverse associations for caffeine and its major metabolites with the risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, the study design does not allow for definitive cause-and-effect inferences from the data, and coffee consumption was assessed through self-report questionnaires, leaving room for reporting bias.

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