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Coffee and Caffeine Reduce the Risk of
Diabetes and Parkinson's

Waking up in the morning with a cup of coffee is a part of Western culture and caffeine has become one of the most popular and accepted stimulants. Caffeine has been recognized as the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. It has been estimated that 80% of U.S. civilian population above the age of 20 years drinks caffeine and related methylxanthines on a regular basis. About 90% of this amount results from drinking coffee. Chronic daily consumption is the usual pattern of intake of caffeine, and although majority of these individuals drink one to three cups a day, the mean for all coffee drinkers is 3.2 cups, or 272 mg of caffeine per day.

In recent years, coffee and caffeine have proven to be more beneficial than harmful. In fact, two of the world's most debilitating diseases might be effectively countered through an increased intake of coffee and caffeine. Researchers have shown that, with increased coffee intake, the possibility of falling victim to diabetes and Parkinson's disease can be significantly reduced.

In a longitudinal study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, every two to four years over a period of 12 to 18 years, more than 126,000 people filled out questionnaires reporting, among other things, their intake of coffee and tea. Researchers adjusted the data for risk factors such as smoking, exercise and obesity.

Compared to non-coffee drinkers, men who drank more than six eight-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee per day lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by about half, and women reduced their risk by nearly 30 percent.

Nevertheless, experts said more research is needed to establish whether it really is the coffee — or something else about coffee drinkers — that protects them.

"The evidence is quite strong that regular coffee is protective against diabetes," said one of the researchers, Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health. "The question is whether we should recommend coffee consumption as a strategy. I don't think we're there yet."

The risk of Parkinson's disease, a progressive nervous condition that generally occurs after age 50, has also been shown to be reduced with the consumption of caffeine. In fact, there are at least six studies linking caffeine consumption on a regular basis to decreased risk of Parkinson's disease by up to 80%. Some studies show the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk.

The caffeine in coffee is directly linked to Parkinson's disease prevention, so much so that Parkinson's drugs are being made with a derivative of caffeine, based on the evidence.

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