Health & Fitness: Drinking tea or coffee could stave off the effects of Parkinson's disease, a new study claims

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a hand holding a cup of coffee on a wooden table: Having a cuppa could protect against the brain condition (Getty Images) Having a cuppa could protect against the brain condition (Getty Images)

Enjoying a regular cuppa is a beloved British pastime - whether you’re in an office or at home.

But a new study has indicated that drinking tea or coffee could stave off the effects of Parkinson's disease.

The degenerative brain condition has been shown in previous research to be less prevalent among people who consumed beverages containing caffeine.

Now scientists at Harvard Medical School have discovered, in findings published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, that caffeine and another compound, urate, had protective properties in humans, after it was shown to help animals.

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Dr Rachit Bakshi, the new study’s lead investigator from the Department of Neurology, said: "Both caffeine and urate possess neuroprotective properties.

"They both have protective properties in animal models of Parkinson's disease, raising the possibility of their disease-slowing potential."

Researchers interviewed 369 individuals with Parkinson's and 197 people without, with their urate and caffeine levels measured.

The scientists found the likelihood of developing the condition decreased significantly with increasing caffeine consumption, adjusting for age, sex and Body Mass Index (BMI).

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Compared to those who who drank the least coffee, the prevalence of Parkinson's was over 70% lower in those who drank the most.

The authors have warned that caffeine has yet to be rigorously studied in a long-term Parkinson's disease trial, therefore increasing one's caffeine intake cannot yet be recommended.

Nevertheless, people who currently enjoy caffeine in coffee or tea may take additional pleasure in knowing of its possible potential.

Professor Bas Bloem said: "The strength of this new study relates to the robust approach, including the large and carefully followed cohort of people living with Parkinson's disease and the comprehensive set of outcome measures.

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"It is an important basis to further develop future disease-modifying approaches to slow down the decline of this otherwise relentlessly progressive condition.

"Identifying factors that are linked to lower likelihood of Parkinson’s disease, such as caffeine consumption, offer a unique opportunity to understand the disease, and if the link were causal, then possibly to slow the disease."

The condition is a slowly progressive disorder affecting movement, muscle control and balance.

According to Parkinson’s UK, around 145,000 people have been diagnosed with it in the country - or one in 350 adults.

The three main symptoms include tremor, stiffness and slowness of movement.

However, people may also experience other signs, including problems with sleep, as well as memory and mental health issues.

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