Wednesday November 21, 2018

Coffee can predict Parkinson’s disease

The team involved 108 people who had Parkinson's disease for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age who did not have the disease and consumed about two cups of coffee per day

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Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition. Wikimedia commons
Parkinson’s disease is named after Dr James Parkinson (1755-1824), the doctor that first identified the condition. Wikimedia commons
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A neurodegenerative disorder which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Yes, that’s Parkinson’s disease. Quite horrifying, isn’t it?

However, there maybe a chance of predicting it.

The way your body metabolises your cup of coffee each morning may determine your chances of developing Parkinson’s disease.

The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. Wikimedia commons
The reason that Parkinson’s disease develops is not known. Wikimedia commons

Findings

  • People with Parkinson’s disease had significantly lower levels of caffeine in their blood than people without the disease, even if they consumed the same amount of caffeine.
  • Thus, testing the level of caffeine in the blood may provide a simple way to aid the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, the researchers said.

“Previous studies have shown a link between caffeine and a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, but we haven’t known much about how caffeine metabolises within the people with the disease,” said Shinji Saiki, MD at the Juntendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo.

“If these results can be confirmed, they would point to an easy test for early diagnosis of Parkinson’s, possibly even before symptoms are appearing,” added David G. Munoz, MD, at the University of Toronto.

“This is important because Parkinson’s disease is difficult to diagnose, especially at the early stages,” Munoz noted.

The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and muscle stiffness or rigidity. Wikimedia commons
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremor, slowness of movement (bradykinesia) and muscle stiffness or rigidity. Wikimedia commons

Methodology

  • The team involved 108 people who had Parkinson’s disease for an average of about six years and 31 people of the same age who did not have the disease and consumed about two cups of coffee per day.
  • Their blood was tested for caffeine and for 11 byproducts the body makes as it metabolises caffeine. They were also tested for mutations in genes that can affect caffeine metabolism.
  • The caffeine level was an average of 79 picomoles per 10 microliters for people without Parkinson’s disease, compared to 24 picomoles per 10 microliters for people with the disease.
  • However, there were no differences found in the caffeine-related genes between the two groups.

The study was published in journal Neurology. (IANS)

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Your Genes Determine You As a Tea or Coffee Person

"The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol," Cornelis said

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Representational image.
Your genes make you tea or coffee lover: Study. Pixabay

Are you a tea or coffee person? The answer may lie in your genetic predisposition towards bitter tastes, say researchers.

It could be because bitterness acts as a natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances.

The study, led by researchers from US-based Northwestern University, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, explored reactions to three bitter substances — caffeine, quinine and propylthiouracil (PROP) — to understand how they affect people’s preference for drinking tea, coffee and alcohol.

The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea.

In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee’s bitterness — and particularly the distinct bitter flavour of caffeine — learn to associate “good things with it”.

“You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee,” said Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

tea
The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea. Pixabay

“The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (stimulation) elicited by caffeine.”

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also found that people sensitive to the bitter flavours of quinine and of PROP — a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables — avoid coffee.

For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.

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“The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol,” Cornelis said.

Scientists applied Mendelian randomisation — a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology — to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 4,00,000 men and women in the UK. (IANS)