Caffeine could have positive effects on movement control for people with Parkinson's disease, according to a small new study in the journal Neurology.
Study participants given caffeine scored better on tests for movement than people who were given a placebo, the McGill University researchers found.
"Although the results do not suggest that caffeine should be used as a treatment in Parkinson's disease, they can be taken into consideration when people with Parkinson's are discussing their caffeine use with their neurologist," Dr. Michael Schwarzschild, M.D., Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, who wrote an editorial that accompanied the new study, said in a statement.
The researchers split up 61 people with Parkinson's disease into two groups. One group took a placebo pill, while the other took a 100 milligram caffeine pill twice a day for a three-week period, then a 200 milligram caffeine pill twice a day for a three-week period. (The amount of caffeine in the pills was the same as about two to four cups of coffee.)
After the six weeks, the researchers had all of the study participants take a test for the severity of their disease. The people who took the caffeine pills scored five points better on the test than those who took the placebo.
"This is a modest improvement, but may be enough to provide benefit to patients. On the other hand, it may not be sufficient to explain the relationship between caffeine non-use and Parkinson's, since studies of the progression of Parkinson's symptoms early in the disease suggest that a five-point reduction would delay diagnosis by only six months," study researcher Dr. Ronald Postuma, M.D., M.Sc., of McGill, said in a statement.
Coffee has also been shown in previous studies to lower the risk of Parkinson's. The Telegraph reported on a review of studies on coffee and Parkinson's, showing that overall, drinking anywhere from two or three cups of coffee a day can decrease by the risk of Parkinson's disease by 25 percent.
And Reuters reported on a study in 2010 that suggested a specific gene may play a part in this decreased risk for some people.
For more of the health benefits of coffee, click through the slideshow: