What’s Hot: Coffee Might Not Help with Parkinson’s Disease Motor Symptoms

Ronald Postuma, MD, and colleagues previously published an intriguing study showing that moderate amounts of coffee (caffeine) may improve the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). In this month’s issue of Neurology, Postuma and colleagues revise their previous comments on coffee drinking. Their revision is based on a larger and better designed clinical study.

Postuma and colleagues studied people with Parkinson’s who were one to eight years into their disease and on stable dopaminergic therapy. Participants were randomized into two groups: those who received 200 milligrams of caffeine twice a day (60 study participants) or a placebo (61 participants). There was no difference between groups in the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Cognitive and dyskinesia scores were slightly worse in those on caffeine. Thus, the authors were unable to replicate the benefits of coffee on Parkinson’s motor symptoms they had previously observed.

The bottom line from all of the available research is that the epidemiologic link between caffeine and a potential lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease is not likely related to a symptomatic effect. If you have Parkinson’s, drinking coffee will not worsen your symptoms, in most cases. 

What should people with PD understand about coffee (and tea) drinking and Parkinson’s disease? Consumption of coffee or tea seems to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Once you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, no matter how much time you spend in a coffee shop, you can no longer alter your risk profile. 

Selected References

  1. Postuma RB, Anang J, Pelletier A, Joseph L, Moscovich M, Grimes D, Furtado S, Munhoz RP, Appel-Cresswell S, Moro A, Borys A, Hobson D, Lang AE. Caffeine as symptomatic treatment for Parkinson disease (Café-PD): A randomized trial. Neurology. 2017 Sep 27. 
  2. Li FJ, Ji HF, Shen L. A meta-analysis of tea drinking and risk of Parkinson's disease. TheScientificWorldJournal 2012;2012:923464.
  3. Qi H, Li S. Dose-response meta-analysis on coffee, tea and caffeine consumption with risk of Parkinson's disease. Geriatrics & gerontology international 2014;14:430-9.
  4. Tan LC, Koh WP, Yuan JM, et al. Differential effects of black versus green tea on risk of Parkinson's disease in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. American journal of epidemiology 2008;167:553-60.


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