An image of three cups of coffee

High daily coffee intake linked with reduced MS risk

New research suggests a link between coffee intake and the risk of MS is worth exploring.

A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry has linked a high daily coffee intake (more than 900ml, approximately six cups) to a reduced risk of developing MS.

Two large studies

The research was based on two studies, one based in Sweden involving 1620 people with MS and 2788 without, and another in America involving 1159 people with MS and 1172 without. Both studies asked people about their coffee drinking habits from the age of 15-19 to 40. Researchers then used this information to estimate coffee consumption before and at the start of experiencing MS symptoms.

In the Swedish study suggests coffee consumption was linked with a reduced risk of MS both at the start of experiencing symptoms and in the 10-15 years preceding this. Those who drank more than 900ml every day had a 28-30% lower risk.

In the American study the results were similar concluding a risk reduction of 26-31% among those drinking more coffee at least five years before their symptoms started compared to those who never drank coffee. It is not clear from either study whether any effects are due to caffeine or another ingredient in coffee.

A link worth exploring

Emma Gray, head of clinical trials at the MS Society said:

“These studies provides new evidence that the link between the risk of developing MS and coffee consumption is worth exploring. There are more than 100,000 people with MS in the UK and we don’t yet fully understand what causes it. While more studies are needed in this area, we welcome any research that offers new insights into risk factors for MS.”

Still plenty of work to do

At the moment the negative side effects of drinking too much coffee are clearer than any benefits in MS and at this stage the research doesn’t provide enough information to recommend making any changes to coffee drinking habits.

These were observational studies so we can’t draw any firm conclusions at this stage and the studies relied on people’s memories of how much coffee they drank. This may have changed over time, and we know from other studies, such as those looking at alochol, that the amount people say they drink does not match up to what is consumed.

What this research does do is open up another avenue for researchers to explore around the risk factors involved in MS.

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