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Caffeine Levels in Blood May Help Detect Parkinson’s Early, Study Finds

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You've probably heard there are quite a few potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee — everything from preventing type 2 diabetes and dementia to protecting the liver. Now, a new study claims that coffee might serve as an early diagnosis tool for Parkinson's disease, a neuro-degenerative disorder that causes body tremors and affects the way a person moves and is notoriously hard to diagnose in its early stages.

Does coffee help Parkinson's disease?

So, does coffee help people who have Parkinson's disease? Well, not exactly. While there has been some speculation about whether or not coffee relieves movement symptoms for those who suffer from Parkinson's — which make it difficult to complete everyday activities, like eating cereal and getting dressed in the morning — researchers have yet to conduct a study large enough to prove caffeine can be used as therapy for people with the condition.

Coffee might, however, help doctors diagnose Parkinson's disease early, according to this new study, which was conducted by scientists from the Jutendo University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan.

"Previous studies have shown a link between caffeine and a lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, but we haven't known much about how caffeine metabolizes within the people with the disease," study author Shinji Saiki, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor at Juntendo University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan told MedicalNewsToday.

An Easy Test for Diagnosing Parkinson's?

The study, which was published in Neurology, looked at 139 participants, 108 of whom had been living with Parkinson's disease for six years or longer. The remaining 31 participants had not been diagnosed with Parkinson's, but were matched for age.

Researchers then asked both groups to consume two cups of coffee per day, only to find out that a surprising number of Parkinson's patients had consistently lower blood caffeine levels than the "healthy" participants — which may pinpoint a new way to test for Parkinson's earlier. And that's great news! If doctors were able to diagnose patients earlier, people with this condition could get access to crucial tools and information about their health much sooner.

"If [the study's] results can be confirmed, they would point to an easy test for early diagnosis of Parkinson's, possibly even before symptoms are appearing," David G. Munoz, M.D., told MedicalNewsToday. "This is important because Parkinson's disease is difficult to diagnose, especially at the early stages."

While this news is exciting, much more research is needed, especially considering not one participant had a severe form of Parkinson's disease. In addition, those who did have Parkinson's were on medication for the condition during the period the study was conducted. Nevertheless, it's a start — and it's just another reason not to feel guilty about your morning cup of joe, right?

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