Consuming around 6 cups of coffee daily is associated to a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Researchers suggested that the link may be due to caffeine’s neuroprotective properties that suppress the production of chemicals involved in the inflammatory response. Though it is not definite whether coffee consumption could prevent the development of multiple sclerosis, they note that the study sheds more evidence indicating that coffee may be good for our health. 

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In two population-based observational studies from Sweden (n=4,408) and the United States (n=2,331), participants with multiple sclerosis and their matched comparators were asked about coffee consumption. Those in the Swedish study quantified how many cups they usually drank each day and across various time periods, starting from when they were aged 15-19 until they were 40 years and older. Those in the U.S. study were asked about their maximum daily consumption; participants who drank 1 or more cups (servings) were asked how old they were when the initially started consuming coffee regularly. 

Researchers analyzed the data to estimate coffee consumption at and prior to the start of multiple sclerosis symptoms in those with multiple sclerosis and compared this amount with their healthy comparator groups. Study data showed the risk of multiple sclerosis was consistently greater among those drinking fewer cups of coffee each day in both studies. This association was sustained even after adjusting for potential factors, such as smoking and weight during teenage years. 

In the Swedish study, drinking coffee was linked to a lower risk of multiple sclerosis at the start of symptoms and 5 and 10 years prior, with a 28-30% reduced risk among those drinking >6 cups (>900mL) daily. In the U.S. study, a 26-31% lower risk was seen among those drinking >948mL daily ≥5 years prior and at the start of symptoms vs. those who never drank coffee. 

No definitive conclusions could be drawn between coffee consumption and risk of multiple sclerosis but study findings further support the growing evidence of caffeine’s protective effects against neurodegenerative diseases. More research is needed to assess whether another chemical component of coffee besides caffeine is responsible for the association, researchers noted. 

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