Coffee and Cigarettes May Reduce Risk of Parkinsons Disease
July 12, 2007 07:09 AM EST
A new medical report is causing shockwaves throughout the world: smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee may protect people from Parkinsons disease, according to a medical study in a recent issue of Archives of Neurology.
"What this study tells us is there is something about cigarette smoking and consuming caffeine that alters the biology underpinning of Parkinsons disease," said Professor William Scott,a leading researcher at the Institute of Human Genomics at the University of Miami.
This case-control study of those with Parkinsons in families included 356 Parkinsons disease patients (averaging about 66 years of age) and 317 of their family members (averaging almost 64 years of age).
Individuals with Parkinsons disease were 44 percent less likely to report ever smoking and 70 percent less likely to report current smoking compared with unaffected relatives, the study authors found.
Previous studies have suggested that smokers and coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Parkinsons disease. However, this is the first study to look specifically at cigarette smoking and caffeine consumption within families affected by the disease, the researchers said.
However, WIlliam Scott also emphasised that "they (smoking and caffeine) are just pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and we are putting it together, but dont have all the pieces yet so we dont have it all figured out yet."
"We are not advocating that people drink coffee and smoke cigarettes," said Burton Scott, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Duke University, who also worked on the study.
Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disease that involves the loss of a specific group of neurons in the substantia nigra that produce dopamine. Sufferers experience a range of symptoms, including a tremor, other motor problems, depression, and cognitive disturbance.
The disease itself is not fatal, but involves severe reduction in quality of life and the symptoms can often cause complications such as choking or pneumonia in advanced patients.
It affects one in 100 people over the age of 60 in U.S., although 5 to 10 percent of cases occur in people 40 or younger, according to the National Parkinson Foundation.