Guest article by Sam Hadadi,
We’re always looking for perks when it comes to supporting our caffeine addiction and so we did a little jump for joy at the latest good news for coffee lovers.
Coffee has long been linked to slashing our risk of all sorts of health problems, as well as boosting our metabolism and giving us rocket fuel for the day. It’s one hard-working beverage, after all…
However, if you really want to make the most of this lovely liquid, then you better start drinking – pronto. A new study has revealed that drinking a lot of coffee (that’s considered six cups a day, for all you caffeine addicts) could reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, or MS.
Astonishingly, enjoying more than 900ml of the drink may offer up to a 30 per cent reduced risk of suffering from the neurological condition.
The researchers looked at two population studies to draw their findings. One was in Sweden and was made up of 1620 adults with MS and a comparison group of 2788 without MS. The second was a US study with 1159 people with MS and 1172 healthy people.
In both studies, participants were asked about their coffee consumption and how long they had been drinking coffee for. The researchers then used this to estimate coffee intake before the start of MS symptoms and compared this with healthy groups.
The results were great news for everyone who loves their mid-morning caffeine fix – in both studies, the risk of MS was often higher in those who drank fewer cups of coffee. This was even when scientists considered other possible influential factors, such as smoking, and weight during the teenage years.
In fact, in the Swedish study, drinking coffee was shown to reduce the risk of MS both at the start of symptoms and even five and 10 years beforehand.
Amazingly, those who drank more than six small cups every day saw a 28 per cent to 30 per cent lower risk of getting MS when compared to non-coffee drinkers.
Similar results were found in the US study, with a 26 per cent to 31 per cent lower risk among those drinking plenty of coffee five years beforehand and at the start of symptoms.
To put things simply, the results showed that the more coffee people drank, the lower the risk of MS.
Well, if you want to get technical and scientific, then this is why scientists think it could be so darn effective at protecting us from certain diseases. You see, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and is full of neuroprotective properties, which can halt inflammatory chemicals.
While other scientists have warned that we can’t be sure whether or not coffee drinking could prevent MS, the findings do add to a whole wealth of evidence that coffee may be good for our health.
Well, if you’re looking for a reason to up your coffee intake, then hold your horses – at least for now. Since this was an observational study, no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. And there’s always the fact that participants could have forgotten just how much coffee they drank over the years.
However, the results do back up animal studies of MS and stack up even more evidence in favour of caffeine's protective effects against Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Of course, we still don’t know why coffee can do this, so more research may be needed into that, too.
Finally, other doctors aren’t so convinced by these findings. Drs Elaine Kingwell and José Maria Andreas Wijnands, of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, say that the results of previous studies looking at this issue have been inconsistent.
They added: "Given the well known challenges that exist in untangling the nature of associations between dietary factors and disease risk, these inconsistencies are perhaps not surprising.
"Although it remains to be shown whether drinking coffee can prevent the development of MS, the results of these thorough analyses add to the growing evidence for the beneficial health effects of coffee.
"The intriguing findings indicate that the role of coffee in the development of MS clearly warrants further investigation, as do the mechanisms that underlie the relationship. In turn, this could potentially contribute to a better understanding of MS aetiology and the development of novel MS therapies.”
In simpler terms, you can take all of this with a pinch of salt until more research has been done…
For years and years, coffee lovers have been adamant that their cup (or two, or three, or even four!) a day works wonders for their health. As well as preventing MS, coffee is known to work wonders for our energy levels and at boosting physical performance. Coffee is also a known source of antioxidants (in fact the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet) – perfect for fighting all manner of diseases and conditions.
However, go easy – drinking too much coffee could affect problems with anxiety or depression. It’s also wise to cut back significantly if you’re pregnant, or trying to conceive as it can affect fertility.
If you want to read more about the effects that coffee can have on the body, then get clicking here.
If you’re looking for ways to spice up your favourite morning rocket fuel, then why not try our favourite Lucy Bee Bullet Proof Coffee?
If you do love your coffee and want to learn everything there is to know about this beloved drink, then get reading. Here is our definitive Lucy Bee guide to everything coffee.
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.