People who drink four to six cups of coffee a day may be less likely to get multiple sclerosis.


While caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, the findings of international research released on Thursday show the same could apply to MS.

“Our study shows coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea the drug may have protective effects for the brain,” said lead author Ellen Mowry of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The findings of twin US and Swedish studies – released ahead of the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Washington – compared more than 1000 MS patients to a similar number of healthy people.

Researchers tracked how much coffee the subjects drank in the one, five and 10 years before symptoms began for those afflicted with MS.

After accounting for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index and sun exposure, the Swedish study found “compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS.”

Similar protective effects were seen among those who drank lots of coffee five to 10 years before symptoms appeared.

The US study found “people who didn’t drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop.”

More research is needed to determine if caffeine has any impact on relapse or long-term disability due to MS, an incurable disease of the central nervous system that affects 2.3 million people worldwide.