Coffee drinkers, especially those who load up on the beverage each day, may be less likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS).
That's the conclusion of research published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. The researchers say it has neuroprotective properties and can suppress the production of chemicals involved in the inflammatory response, which may explain their findings.
They say consuming a lot of coffee every day – around six cups--is linked to a reduced risk of MS. An accompanying editorial cautions that the link remains to be conclusively proven. However, the research is just the latest to suggest that coffee has some beneficial health effects.
Based on two studies
The research is based on two studies, one in the U.S. and the other in Sweden. The results showed that the risk of MS was consistently higher among people who drank fewer cups of coffee every day, and the results were virtually the same in both studies.
The more coffee that was consumed, the lower the risk of MS, the results showed.
It's just the latest study to find health benefits in coffee, which was thought to be a heart risk in 1970s research.
Coffee's health properties
Among the more recent research is the suggestion that coffee and cranberries help fight colon cancer; that coffee grounds contain 500 times the antioxidant properties of vitamin C; and that green coffee might even help you lose weight.
There was even a study released last year that was part of this latest finding.
Caffeine has only recently come to be viewed as potentially beneficial. In the past health experts were skeptical of the drug because of its tendency to temporarily increase the heart rate and elevate blood pressure.
Might not be the caffeine
But coffee's health benefits apparently extend beyond caffeine to the properties in the bean itself. A 2014 study by the National Cancer Institute found that even decaffeinated coffee may be good for the liver.
That's because coffee's health inducing qualities might not come from caffeine, but from something else. Researchers say some other chemical component of coffee, rather than caffeine, may be responsible for the fact that heavy coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from MS.
They say more research will be necessary to answer that question once and for all.