Nov. 23, 2000 ST. PAUL, MN - Drinking coffee may reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the November 14 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
In a study of 196 people with Parkinson's disease and 196 people without the disease, there was a 10-percent difference in the amount of coffee use. Heavier coffee drinkers exhibited fewer instances of the disease. Among the people with Parkinson's, 83 percent were regular coffee drinkers, while 92 percent of the controls were regular coffee drinkers. There was also a marked difference in the amount of coffee consumed. Among the controls, 37 percent drank four or more cups per day, while among those with the disease, 21 percent consumed four or more cups daily. In addition, the average age at onset of the disease was eight years older for people who consumed coffee compared to those who never did. The study also found that tobacco chewers and snuff users, and alcoholics were less likely to develop Parkinson's disease.
Neurologists Demetrius Maraganore, M.D., and Walter Rocca, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., are not convinced that coffee protects against Parkinson's disease, and would not advise patients to increase coffee, tobacco, or alcohol consumption. They said the study found that not only coffee, but also extreme types of tobacco and alcohol use reduce the risk for Parkinson's disease. They said the study raises the question whether all three substances have independent protective effects, of if Parkinson's patients share a certain personality type that makes then less likely to use or become addicted to substances.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic based their study on patient records that are collected and archived as part of the Rochester Epidemiology Project. The project, initiated in 1976, has provided source data for numerous studies, and includes medical histories and surveys of residents of Olmsted County, Minn., who participate voluntarily.
Other studies on coffee consumption and Parkinson's released this year by the Honolulu Heart Study and the Harvard School of Public Health reported similar findings.
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