Coffee Drinkers Have Less MS

A new study finds that drinking a lot of coffee could decrease the risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

A new study finds that drinking a lot of coffee could decrease the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). The study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, was conducted by Anna Hedstrom, of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institute, and colleagues.

The researchers describe their aim with, “Previous studies on consumption of caffeine and risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) have yielded inconclusive results. We aimed to investigate whether consumption of coffee is associated with risk of MS.”

They used two previously completed studies, one from Sweden and one from the US, to investigate coffee habits and MS risk.

The Swedish study, Epidemiological Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis (EIMS), included 1620 cases and 2788 controls, while the US study, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan, Northern California Region (KPNC), included 1159 cases and 1172 controls.

The researchers say, “Using logistic regression, the occurrence of MS among participants with different coffee consumption habits was compared with those who never drank coffee.”

Coffee consumption was associated with several factors, according the researchers, including “sex, smoking, passive smoking and adolescent body mass index among both cases and controls.” In both studies, people who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of developing MS compared to people who never drank coffee.

In the meta analysis, the researchers found “the combined odds ratio was .71 when participants with the highest consumption of coffee were compared with participants who never drank coffee.”

The researchers report that “the relationship between caffeine consumption and MS risk has been investigated in several studies that generated inconsistent results,” and point out that the two case-control studies used in this analysis have some limitations.

They add, however, that this study also has “a number of strengths,” including the consideration of a large number of confounding factors and the careful selection of cases and controls.

They conclude that there is “a significant association between high consumption of coffee and decreased risk of developing MS.”

They suggest that additional studies should be conducted to “establish if it is in fact caffeine, or if there is another molecule in coffee underlying the findings, 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.”