Coffee consumers seem to be better protected against the risk of developing Parkinson's Disease than non-coffee drinkers. This conclusion was reached by an extensive Portuguese meta-analysis which was presented at the 1st Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) in Berlin.

"According to available data, coffee drinkers reduce their risk of developing Parkinson's by almost one third, to be precise by 31 percent", study author Dr Filipe Brogueira Rodrigues of the Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon (Portugal) reported. Following a systematic review of 37 studies from all over the world, it is regarded as confirmed: "Men and women benefit equally from the effects of caffeine." There are many possible explanations for this. It is primarily assumed that caffeine interacts with the neurotransmitter adenosine. Dr Filipe Brogueira Rodrigues: "This may have neuroprotective effects on specific brain regions which play an important role in relation to Parkinson's." This was already tested in animal models, but proof is still awaited in humans.

Coffee drinkers gain better protection against more than Parkinson's. As other studies have indicated, they are also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, stroke, depression, Alzheimer's, liver cirrhosis or liver cancer due to caffeine consumption. The factor linking these disorders is not yet sufficiently researched. A joint factor might be that they are all chronic and linked to cell degeneration in one way or another.

"The results of this important meta analytic study reported at the EAN Congress confirm the finding that caffeine exposure is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing Parkinson's disease (PD). Better understanding of environmental factors which reduce or increase the risk of developing PD is crucial to safeguard against developing this disorder", Prof Kailash Bhatia from the Institute of Neurology, UCL, London and Chair of the EAN Subspecialty Committee on Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders, commented the presentation. However, he added that further work was needed to understand the mechanism of this apparent protective effect of caffeine exposure.