Just 6 cups of coffee a day may keep MS away – scientists

© Morris MacMatzen
Rejoice, coffee-lovers! Drinking six cups of your favorite fluid each day could cut the risk of developing multiple sclerosis by 30 percent, a new study suggests.

Scientists have been saying for some time now that they’re finding more evidence of coffee being good for health. The latest proves its effects to be even more beneficial.

In a  published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry on March 3, researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Johns Hopkins University in Maryland and the University of California, Berkeley joined forces to research how coffee effects people with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune condition affecting nerve cells. 

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It is known to disrupt the flow of information within the brain, and can gradually make it difficult for the person affected by it to move, speak, or even see.

The team studied two representative population groups, all adults, in two separate studies in Sweden and the US. In Sweden, researchers compared 1,620 adults with multiple sclerosis with 2,788 healthy subjects, matched for age and sex. Their American colleagues studied 1,159 people with the disease and 1,172 healthy participants.

In both experiments, both healthy and diseased subjects were questioned about their maximum daily coffee intake. Researchers then estimated coffee consumption during and before the start of multiple sclerosis symptoms in those who developed the disease, and compared the results with those from the healthy group.

The results showed that the risk of multiple sclerosis was much higher among people who drank fewer cups of coffee every day in both studies, even after other factors that might influence the results, like smoking during teenage years, were researched.

They also discovered that drinking coffee was associated with a 26 - 31 percent lower risk of multiple sclerosis among those drinking more than six cups of it a day at least five years beforehand and at the start of symptoms – compared with those who never drank coffee.

The authors of the study stressed it was of observational character, yet they did conclude:

Lower odds of MS with increasing consumption of coffee were observed, regardless of whether coffee consumption at disease onset or five or 10 years prior to disease onset was considered."

They also stated that caffeine is known for its neuroprotective properties, suppressing inflammatory responses in the body and stimulating the central nervous system in many previous studies.

Coffee is known to contain over 1,000 biologically active components, including caffeine.  Previously, a high coffee intake has been associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. In animal models of Alzheimer's disease, caffeine also helped to protect against blood-brain barrier leakage.

The scientists now say they have high hopes for further studies of how coffee affects multiple sclerosis to perhaps come up with some sort of medication for it in the future: 

Further studies are required to longitudinally assess the association between consumption of coffee and disease activity in MS, and to evaluate the mechanisms by which coffee may be acting, which could thus lead to new therapeutic targets.