Coffee Habit Wards Off Yet Another Illness
Caffeine may protect you from multiple sclerosis, researchers say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2015 4:30 PM CST
In this July 16, 2012, file photo a customer stirs a cup of coffee at a cafe in Vienna, Austria.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

(Newser) – Rejoice yet again, coffee lovers: A new study says that four or more cups a day may reduce your chance of getting multiple sclerosis, LiveScience reports. An international group of researchers looked at two datasets—one Swedish and one American—and found that people who didn't drink coffee were 1.5 times more likely to develop MS than those who downed about four cups daily. The analysis of nearly 7,000 people echoes earlier research that mice, raised to get an MS-like illness, never developed it when given hefty doses of caffeine. Why caffeine? Well, with MS, the immune system strikes nerve fibers by attacking a protective covering called myelin. And scientists believe that caffeine blocks a body chemical that allows immune cells into the central nervous system to crush myelin.

Now, the caveats: The new study finds no causal link between caffeine and reducing the chances of MS, the LA Times notes. Further, it's based on self-reported coffee habits that date back 10 years and may be sketchy. "I think from the MS perspective, there are too few data to support changing coffee intake at this time," says study leader Ellen Mowry. "Further research should be done ... as it may lead to identifying new targets for [MS] treatment." On the bright side, she says, the two data sets came up with very similar results. Coffee has also been found to reduce the chance of skin cancer and breast cancer, Yahoo reports, and a Harvard study of over 130,000 volunteers found that even six cups daily led to no greater chance of dying. (But toddlers may be drinking more coffee than we realize.)
 

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