HealthDay News — Two studies scheduled to be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology show that people who drink at least four cups of coffee per day may have a reduced risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

The findings come from two separate study groups: a Swedish group that included 1,629 adults with MS and 2,807 without the disease, and a U.S. group of 584 MS patients and 581 individuals free of the disease.

In the U.S. group, people who regularly drank at least four cups of coffee a day were one-third less likely to have MS, versus people who avoided coffee. In the Swedish group, people who drank six or more cups of coffee daily had a one-third lower MS risk. 

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The typical Swedish “cup” of coffee is smaller than the U.S. version, lead researcher Ellen Mowry, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told HealthDay, so the results are consistent. What’s more, the Swedish study had longer-term data, and the researchers found that high coffee intake over five to 10 years had a similarly protective effect against MS.

“This doesn’t mean we should be recommending rampant coffee drinking,” Mowry said. There could, for instance, be something else about coffee drinkers 3 such as a diet or lifestyle habit — that is the real explanation behind their lower MS risk, Mowry explained. 

Still, the findings do build on evidence that coffee and possibly caffeine specifically are “neuroprotective,” Mowry said. Higher coffee intake has been linked to lower risks of other diseases that involve degeneration in brain cells, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s.

AAN Press release: