While I am definitely health conscious, especially given the number of food-triggers there are for migraines (which I suffered for nearly 30 years), I have always been and will forever be drawn to the coffee bean. That’s right, I adore dark-roasted, freshly ground, well-brewed coffee. And, dare I say it, with cream and sugar!
As with so many foods and activities, first “They” say it’s good and then, a few years later that it’s bad for us. Not only, they say, can the caffeine in coffee cause excess stress and tension in the body, giving many drinkers the jitters, intestinal stress and serious headaches, it also acts as a diuretic, leading to dehydration and constipation.
And whereas the medical community first praised the value of dairy products, placing them among the priorities of a well-balanced diet, they have now discovered that too much dairy intake can cause prostate cancer in men!
The reverse is true of coffee. What was once scorned as the drink of legal stimulant addicts has now been found to prevent Parkinson’s disease in some men.
The results of a 30-year longitudinal study on the effects of coffee on patients suffering Parkinson’s disease were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study, which analyzed the health of 8004 Japanese-American men (aged 45-68 years), explored the association of coffee and caffeine intake with the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
According to JAMA, 102 of the men became afflicted with Parkinson’s. Adjusted for age, incidence of the disease declined consistently with increased amounts of daily coffee intake, from 10.4 per 10,000 person-years in men who drank no coffee to 1.9 per 10,000 person-years in men who drank at least 28 oz. The study thus indicates that higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease.
The Parkinson’s-Coffee Connection…
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Parkinson’s disease afflicts 3% of the population older than 65 years and is a significant source of morbidity and health services use. And according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, while rare genetic forms of the disease do exist, determinants of typical late-onset disease appear to be largely environmental.
While no treatment has definitively been shown to prevent the disease or slow its progression, coffee intake has been inversely associated with Parkinson’s occurrence in some studies, such as that of the Honolulu Heart Program, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which found that coffee intake measured prospectively appeared to be protective against affliction with Parkinson’s.
In the Honolulu study, coffee drinkers had significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease than abstainers. And at each examination of the participants over the 30-year course of the study, larger amounts of coffee intake were associated with a greater decline in incidence of the disease. In short, non-drinkers of coffee had a 5 times greater chance of contracting Parkinson’s than men who drank at least 28 oz. of coffee per day.
You see…coffee can be good for you. And for those health-conscious decaf drinkers, you’re out of luck. The study showed that no other single attribute of coffee––such as niacin, sugar, milk or water––assisted in lowering incidence of the disease. It is only 100% pure caffeinated coffee.
As an aside, an earlier article by Yano and Kagan from the Honolulu Heart Program published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed no relationship between coffee drinking and risk of coronary artery disease!
The Last Drop…
The biology supporting why a beverage that gives drinkers the jitters would be helpful in combating Parkinson’s disease is still unknown. Some researchers hypothesize that regular caffeine consumption may counteract the brain’s age-related degenerative process that leads to loss of dopamine, a key factor in Parkinson’s onset. Of course, the study does not guarantee that all men who drink coffee will be protected from this debilitating disease. And so far, no such longitudinal studies have been carried out on women.
So go ahead and drink the super-strong, high octane leaded stuff that looks like oil sludge. While it may give you the shakes now, it just might help you avoid them later.
Ross, G.W., Abbot, R.D. et al. (2000). “Association of Coffee and Caffeine Intake With the Risk of Parkinson Disease.” Journal of the American Medical Association, 283(20):2674-2679.
Ascherio, A., Weisskopfl, M.G., et al. (2002). “Coffee Consumption, Gender, and Parkinson’s Disease Mortality in the Cancer Prevention Study II Cohort: The Modifying Effects of Estrogen.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 160(10), pp. 977-984.
About the author
Mark V. Wiley is unique. As a doctor of both Oriental and Alternative medicine, best selling author, martial art master and international seminar instructor… no one does for wellness what he does!
Dr. Mark’s interest in holistic and natural health practices was not just a mere curiosity; he was looking for long-lasting relief from the debilitating migraines and chronic pain that plagued him for nearly three decades.
His passion for wellness has led him to become an innovator in the field of holistic health with the creation of the self-directed wellness model called The Wiley Method. This Method is unlike other healing systems that look at the individual symptoms and diseases and work toward managing them. Instead, it takes a systems view of health as being intimately tied to ones body, worldview and lifestyle choices.