Coffee and MS Blend
“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.” ― Dave Barry
Recent medical headlines proclaim coffee as a possible multiple sclerosis preventative. In an article just published, researchers found that people who consume coffee have a lower risk of developing MS than people who don’t drink coffee. The study paper titled High consumption of coffee is associated with decreased multiple sclerosis risk; results from two independent studies, looked at two separate study groups of people, one from Sweden and the second from Northern California.1
They looked at the rates of MS between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers to come to their conclusion, but I have to wonder where in this country you find enough non-coffee drinkers to sufficiently power a study like this. Every adult I know indulges in coffee on a daily basis but many of us have MS, too. The researchers also looked at tea and soda consumption, two other popular drinks that contain caffeine, and found no correlation with them for reducing MS.
Studies with mice have been done over the past decade to show the beneficial effect of caffeine in reducing neuroinflammation and demyelination- the two major treatment targets of MS. The idea of coffee as a drug continues to percolate in studies everywhere suggesting it may be the next new wonder drug, similar to aspirin in the last century. We all know that coffee contains caffeine, even the decaffeinated varieties have a bit of the stimulant slip through in the processing, but did you know coffee also “contains more than a thousand biologically active compounds” according to this study? I didn’t know that either.2
I do know coffee shows up in studies as being a possible cure or helpful agent for many things including Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Coffee has also been shown to change the odds of an early death thanks to its cardiovascular benefits, and makes extended exercising more efficient and effective. Personally, I know coffee is a tasty agent in helping me get up and staying alert but until now I didn’t know I was doing so much for my health with each sip.
Before you get too excited and up your coffee intake, you might also want to know studies have shown coffee caffeine can disrupt our sleep patterns. It can also increase anxiety but I find no references to coffee’s ability to create unexpected sudden urges for the bladder. It would also be unwise if you don’t now have coffee in your daily routine to amp it up to the 6-8 cups a day found beneficial in this study. That would be like drinking several cans of Red Bull energy drink and could have detrimental effects. You have to add caffeine to your diet gradually.
Coffee is a natural anti-oxidant and is widely acknowledged as the #1 source of anti-oxidants in this country. Joe Vinson, Ph.D., lead author of another study, said that "Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close." Caffeinated and decaffeinated versions provide nearly the same levels of antioxidants but not caffeine.3
Thanks to the assistance of early coffee roasters like Folgers and Maxwell House, coffee is a beverage that can easily be brewed at home and doesn’t require a prescription. The advent of automatic Mr. Coffee pots, and more recently the latest models of Keurig cups, give us coffee on demand. I’ve been a coffee drinker for many years, but still developed MS so this didn’t work for me, but the concept of coffee as a beneficial drug is well founded in science. The next time you see the lines at Starbucks or Tim Hortons, don’t think of it as people indulging an expensive habit, but instead acknowledge we are working on our health, one cup at a time.
Wishing you well,
Do you live with any comorbidities aside from MS?