Coffee does not help Parkinson’s despite previous research

Coffee may not relieve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease after all, a new study suggests. 

Research published in the journal Neurology in 2012 suggested that caffeine may help reduce movement symptoms for people with Parkinson’s disease.

However, a more in-depth investigation has shown that the beverage did nothing to alleviate sufferers’ crippling symptoms. 

New research by McGill University refutes previous research published in 2012 which suggested that caffeine may help reduce movement symptoms for people with Parkinson’s

Study author Dr Ronald Postuma, of McGill University in Canada, said: ‘Caffeine, which is so safe and inexpensive, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s.

‘So it was exciting to think that it could possibly help people who already have the disease.’

The new study involved 121 people with an average age of 62 who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s for an average of four years.

Of those, half were given a 200-milligram capsule of caffeine twice daily, once in the morning and once after lunch, the equivalent of three cups of coffee per day, while the other half were given placebo capsules.

To help them adjust to the caffeine, the dose was increased slowly, starting with placebo and reaching 200 milligrams at week nine. The study participants were followed for six to 18 months.

The researchers found there was no improvement in movement symptoms for people who had taken the caffeine capsules compared to those who took the placebo capsules.

There was also no difference in quality of life. Because of the findings showing no benefit from taking caffeine, the study was stopped.

Dr Postuma added: ‘While our previous study showed possible improvement in symptoms, that study was shorter, so it’s possible that caffeine may have a short-term benefit that quickly dissipates.

‘Regardless, our core finding is that caffeine cannot be recommended as therapy for movement symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.’

Dr Charles Hall, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine who wrote a commentary on the study for Neurology, said: ‘It is important that promising leads be studied.

‘It is also important that the disappointing findings like these be shared so new research can focus on other possible treatments instead.’