Parkinson’s Disease: Research Roundup

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Parkinson’s Disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the slowing down of motor function, resting tremor, muscular rigidity, gait disturbances, and postural reflex impairment. In Europe, almost 1.2 million people are estimated to have Parkinson’s Disease, with about 75,000 new cases diagnosed every year1. The age of onset of Parkinson’s Disease is usually over 60, but it is estimated that one in ten people are diagnosed before the age of 50, with slightly more men than women affected2.

Parkinson’s Disease Coffee Research
A large number of epidemiological studies point to a preventative role of coffee and caffeine consumption in the development of Parkinson’s Disease, with research suggesting that coffee consumption may reduce, or delay, the development of Parkinson’s Disease.

Since 2012, several new studies have been published on coffee and Parkinson’s Disease, which add to the already large body of scientific research on this topic built up over many years. Here we take a look at some of the latest research on coffee, caffeine and Parkinson’s Disease, a full list of which can be found in the Latest Research section.

  • A large study concluded that caffeine consumption is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease, a finding that is consistent with previous research. The study also suggested that the effect in women, particularly those taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), was not as significant as that seen in men3.
  • A meta-analysis confirmed previous findings that caffeine intake is associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease in men and women. This review suggested that there is no gender difference between caffeine intake and Parkinson’s Disease4.
  • A review of the effect of different doses of caffeine on the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease suggested a dose-response relationship between caffeine intake and Parkinson’s Disease risk. The maximum benefit was suggested to be at a level of coffee consumption of three cups per day5.
  • However one population study in Greece did not find a link between caffeine consumption and a reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease6.
  • A large study on the effects of caffeine consumption in Parkinson’s Disease patients showed an overall improvement in symptoms. Specifically, caffeine was associated with an improvement in motor symptoms, but had only a small effect on daytime sleepiness7.

Conclusion 
Overall, the body of evidence suggests that caffeine intake is associated with a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease, and that the association is stronger in men than in women. The reduced risk of development of Parkinson’s Disease appears to be associated with consumption of three to four cups of coffee per day (approximately 300mg of caffeine). Recent work reviewing the role of caffeine as a treatment for motor symptoms shows interesting results but more research is required in this area before conclusions can be drawn.

References
1. European Parkinson’s Disease Association (2011). EPDA Annual report 2010-2011.
2. European Parkinson’s Disease Association (2011). Life with Parkinson’s.
3. Palacios N. et al. (2012) Caffeine and Risk of Parkinson’s Disease in a Large Cohort of Men and Women. Movement Disorders, 1;27(10):1276-82
4. Liu R. et al. (2013) 2012 Caffeine intake, smoking, and risk of Parkinson disease in men and women. Am J Epidemiol. 175(11):1200-7
5. Qi H. & Li S. (2013) Dose-response meta-analysis on coffee, tea and caffeine consumption with risk of Parkinson’s disease. Geriatr Gerontol Int. published online ahead of print
6. Kyrozis A. et al. (2013) Dietary and lifestyle variables in relation to incidence of Parkinson’s disease in Greece. Eur J Epidemiol. 28(1):67-77
7. Postuma R.B. et al. (2012) Caffeine for treatment of Parkinson disease: A randomized controlled trial. Neurology, 79(7):651-8

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