Daily Coffee Consumption May Reduce Multiple Sclerosis Risk

Six or more cups of coffee per day associated with a reduced risk in the onset of multiple sclerosis symptoms.

Consuming nearly 6 cups of coffee each day can reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

An analysis published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry included 2 studies: a study in Sweden that examined 1620 adult MS patients against a comparison group of 2788 people and a US study with 1159 MS patients and 1172 non-MS individuals.

A matched cohort was then asked what their maximum daily coffee consumption was. Those who reported consuming 1 or more cups of coffee were asked how old they were when they first started drinking coffee on a regular basis.

The data gathered was then used to estimate coffee consumption at and before MS symptoms started appearing versus individuals in the healthy group.

The results of the study conducted in the United States showed that after taking into account potential risk factors such as smoking and weight during their teenage years, there was a greater risk for developing MS among those who drank fewer cups of coffee each day. The Swedish study found this to be true as well.

The results of the Swedish study found a reduced risk of MS during the start of symptoms and 5 and 10 years beforehand. There was a 28% to 30% risk for those who consumed more than 6 cups (900 ml) each day.

Since this is an observational study, no solid conclusions can be drawn regarding cause and effect. More research needs to be done to explore whether there is a chemical component in coffee that could be responsible for the association as opposed to the caffeine.

“Given the well-known challenges that exist in untangling the nature of associations between dietary factors and disease risk, these inconsistencies are perhaps not surprising," the study authors wrote. “Although it remains to be shown whether drinking coffee can prevent the development of MS, the results of these thorough analyses add to the growing evidence for the beneficial health effects of coffee."

The researchers noted these findings may potentially contribute to a better understanding of MS aetiology, which could lead to new MS therapies.