How caffeine can affect risk of Parkinson’s disease

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In a striking revelation, researchers have illuminated the role of regular caffeine intake, through coffee or tea, in significantly lowering the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease (PD) for certain individuals with specific Asian gene variants.

This intriguing connection between genetics, lifestyle choices, and neurodegenerative conditions provides a hopeful glimpse into potential preventive measures against PD, especially for Asian populations.

The Genetics of Parkinson’s and the Protective Shield of Caffeine

The National Neuroscience Institute dived into the genetics of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), discovering that individuals with particular Asian gene variants have a 1.5 to 2 times higher risk of developing PD.

Remarkably, the regular consumption of caffeine-rich beverages such as tea and coffee appears to throw a protective shield over these genetically predisposed individuals, drastically lowering their PD risk by four to eight times compared to their non-caffeine-drinking counterparts.

The mechanism behind caffeine’s protective effect involves the reduction of inflammation within brain neurons, crucially minimizing cell death.

However, how caffeine dances with Asian PD gene variants in this protective waltz is still under investigation.

The genes in question are most common in East Asians, and approximately 10% of Singapore’s population carry them, emphasizing the study’s significance for such communities.

Caffeine: Quantity and Quality

With 4,488 participants in tow, the study ventured into the relationship between caffeine intake and PD risk.

Participants shared their caffeine consumption habits through a questionnaire, revealing an average intake of 448.3 mg and 473.0 mg of caffeine among PD cases and healthy controls, respectively.

This amount of caffeine translates to roughly 4 to 5 cups of Western-style brewed Arabica coffee or 2 cups of traditional Singaporean kopi, brewed using Robusta coffee beans, which boast a higher caffeine content.

Notably, while higher caffeine doses seemingly enhanced protective benefits, even those who consumed under 200 mg per day slashed their PD risk, affirming that even moderate caffeine intake can serve as a protective measure.

Parkinson’s Disease: A Growing Global Concern

PD stands out as the fastest-expanding neurodegenerative condition worldwide, holding sway over more than 8,000 individuals in Singapore alone.

Moreover, a study by the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) hints at a submerged portion of the iceberg, revealing that 26% of the local senior population exhibits mild parkinsonian signs.

The encouraging findings of this research offer a step towards potentially preventing PD, especially in countries like Singapore where specific Asian gene variants are prevalent.

Tea and coffee, being both accessible and culturally embedded in many Asian societies, emerge as delightful and sociable pathways for individuals to potentially mitigate their PD risk, especially for those with a genetic predisposition to the disease.

While these findings open a hopeful avenue in the fight against PD, they also underscore the complex interplay between genetics and lifestyle choices in our health outcomes.

It’s a gentle reminder of how global health encompasses not just understanding diseases but also unraveling the myriad of factors, from our genes to our daily cuppa, that influence them.

Future research may further clarify the mechanisms and potential applications of these findings, potentially lighting the way towards more effective prevention strategies against neurodegenerative diseases.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease and findings of MIND and Mediterranean diets could help delay Parkinson’s Disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

The research findings can be found in The Lancet Regional Health—Western Pacific.

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