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February 2007 Issue
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Could coffee be the next 'hot' thing for Parkinson's prevention?
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For Parkinson's Treatment, Is Espresso Worth a Shot?

Published February 2007

UC neurologist Alberto Espay, MD, says coffee is turning heads as a possible prevention for Parkinson's disease.

Recent studies have shown that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Parkinson's. And new laboratory studies have determined that the drink's natural stimulant, caffeine, can enhance the effects of the most common drug given to Parkinson's patients, levodopa. 

"In fact, scientists are currently working on drugs for Parkinson's that act on the brain in the same way caffeine does," says Espay. "With all we know about coffee, if you drink it, keep drinking. And if you don't, it wouldn't hurt to start. 

"It's unclear what amount of coffee must be consumed to have the most benefit," he adds. "But because coffee has no clear health risks, go for it. Just be sure to talk with your doctor first if you have high blood pressure or other health concerns." 

Parkinson's results from the loss of a group of brain cells that produce the natural neurotransmitter dopamine. Without dopamine, brain nerve cells don't fire properly, causing an inability to control movement. For more information, visit www.healthnews.uc.edu.


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