Drinking coffee regularly may help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases — including Parkinson’s disease — particularly in men, according to a new report from the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC).
With the substantial improvements in medical care, health, and quality of life over the past decades, global life expectancy has risen to 72 years (latest data, 2016), according to the World Health Organization.
Nevertheless, longer life expectancies come with increased risk of disease and disabilities. It is estimated that up to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease, the second most common age-related neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s.
Increasing evidence suggests that lifestyles — such as diet, caffeine/coffee consumption, and smoking — may contribute to people’s risk of developing Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative conditions.
In particular, previous preclinical studies have shown that some coffee components (caffeine combined with EHT, and phenylindane) can prevent the formation of the toxic protein aggregates associated with Parkinson’s development.
The ISIC’s new report discusses the association between dietary components, particularly coffee and its components, and a reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
While the link between diet and Parkinson’s disease is still largely ambiguous, likely due to underlying genetic and gender-specific factors, increasing evidence suggests that diet and dietary compounds may influence the risk of developing the disease.
A recent review study highlighted the potential protective effect of a Mediterranean diet, uric acid, good polyunsaturated fats, coffee, caffeinated tea, as well as beer in Parkinson’s development, particularly in men. Uric acid is an antioxidant molecule formed with the break-down of purines, which are compounds found in several foods, including liver, shellfish, sardines, and alcohol.
Meanwhile, other data suggest that consumption of dairy products and saturated fats may increase Parkinson’s risk.
The first reports about coffee consumption and the lower risk of Parkinson’s were published in the 1970s. Since then, several studies have analyzed its potential protective properties.
Available data suggest that drinking coffee reduces the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by up to 30%, in a dose-dependent manner, with most studies indicating three cups of coffee as the beneficial dose. However, the best dose of coffee and caffeine consumption is still unclear.
Several studies also have highlighted that men may benefit more than women from being coffee drinkers, with some studies showing an up to 60% reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease among male coffee drinkers.
This potential gender-specific benefit may be explained by underlying hormonal and genetic factors and/or the lower frequency of Parkinson’s disease among women. Preclinical studies in mouse models of the disease suggest that a competition between estrogen and caffeine may be behind this gender difference.
Notably, while some studies have found an association between the non-use of postmenopausal hormones and coffee drinking in the reduction of Parkinson’s risk in women, more recent studies have shown the opposite trend.
Overall, additional studies are required to better understand these potential associations and their underlying mechanisms, as well as to clarify gender differences and interactions between hormones and coffee compounds.