178 posts in the category “Parkinson’s Disease”

Spill the beans: How do caffeine and Parkinson’s disease interact?

Posted May 14th, 2018 by

Do you crave that cup (or more) of joe each day? Or a spot of tea or chunk of chocolate? Research about caffeine and Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been all over the map. What have studies shown? And what’s the PatientsLikeMe community’s take on caffeine and its effects when you’re living with PD? Take a peek.

Mixed findings on symptom relief

Past research showing that moderate caffeine intake may help protect against PD (particularly in men) has turned on a steady drip of studies about other caffeine/PD connections or interactions.

A small-scale 2012 study published in the journal Neurology found that moderate amounts of caffeine may help improve motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. But the study was relatively short (three weeks) and small (61 patients), so researchers concluded that there should be a larger long-term trial on caffeine and PD.

The lead researcher, Ronald Postuma, M.D. (an associate professor of neurology at McGill University Health Center in Montreal), conducted a follow-up study on a larger scale — involving 121 participants for up to 18 months — and the results of the September 2017 study did not uphold the findings of the 2012 study.

“Caffeine made no difference to Parkinson’s,” he says, noting that the results of the 2012 study made a bigger splash than intended. “The news media picked it up, and all of a sudden I’ve got all of my patients drinking coffee, which I never intended,” Dr. Postuma tells WebMD. “We always have to verify things.”

New findings on caffeine as a biomarker

Another recent caffeine/PD study that’s created a buzz is one published in January 2018 in Neurology that shows caffeine could be a biomarker of PD, meaning it could be a possible predictor or diagnostic blood test down the road, if more research pans out.

In the Japanese study involving 139 people (men and women, both with and without PD), those with Parkinson’s disease had significantly lower levels of caffeine and related byproducts in their blood, even when consuming the same amount of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee per day).

But the study also had limitations, including the fact that people with severe PD weren’t a part of the research, and all participants were taking PD medication (so these drugs could possibly affect caffeine metabolism).

The Michael J. Fox Foundation called the study’s findings “very intriguing” and is reportedly working on a “rapid replication” of the research.

What’s the takeaway from all this research?

The Parkinson’s Foundation sums it up like this: “The bottom line from all of the available research is that the epidemiologic link between caffeine and a potential lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease is not likely related to a symptomatic effect. If you have Parkinson’s, drinking coffee will not worsen your symptoms, in most cases… Consumption of coffee or tea seems to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s. Once you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, no matter how much time you spend in a coffee shop, you can no longer alter your risk profile.”

Among the general population, drinking coffee appears to have at least a few health perks. Nutrition experts at Harvard University say that, in addition to lowering the risk for PD, drinking coffee appears to protect against type 2 diabetes and liver cancer, and it’s generally a good beverage choice for healthy people (as long as it’s not loaded with fat/cream and sugar, interrupting sleep, or causing tremors — which can occur even in healthy people who consume too much caffeine).

Keep in mind that caffeine levels vary by brand and type of drink (for example, espresso and mocha drinks contain more). Talk with your health care team about your caffeine intake, timing with medications, and any symptoms you think may be associated with it.

Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with others on topics like this (logged-in members can access the following links)! See what members with PD are saying about:

Some members have found that caffeine makes their tremors worse, while others say they’re not sure how it affects them (and besides, they’ll never give up their “morning joe”). A few have mentioned that they’ve tweaked their routine — having a bit of coffee only after they’ve taken their medication.

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Health news: What’s making headlines this month

Posted May 8th, 2018 by

Let’s stay on top of the latest health news — in case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in May.

ALS
  • May is ALS awareness month: Later this month, advocates from across the U.S. will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators. Check out how you can get involved and join the fight against ALS.
  • Congress passes $3 billion increase in NIH funding: $140 million of the increase will go to the BRAIN Initiative research projects that contribute to the knowledge and understanding of ALS. More info.
Lupus
  • May is Lupus Awareness Month: Nearly two-thirds of people know little or nothing about lupus beyond the name, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, which is promoting the “Go Purple” campaign. Get ideas for boosting awareness.

  • A link between the “mono” virus and lupus? A new study published in Nature Genetics shows that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) — known for causing mononucleosis — may increase the risk of lupus and six other autoimmune diseases by changing how some genes are expressed. Check it out.
Parkinson’s Disease
  • “Suspect” Parkinson’s drug faces scrutiny: Following reports of hundreds of deaths and adverse events, the FDA is re-examining the safety of Nuplazid (pimavanserin), which was approved in 2016 for treating hallucinations and delusions associated with PD. Read more.
Lung cancer
  • Emerging treatments for small-cell lung cancer (SCLC): Immunotherapy and other emerging drugs called PARP inhibitors and Rova-T(Rovalpituzumab tesirine) are among a group of new therapies showing “early promise” in clinical trials for the treatment of patients with SCLC. Hear from one patient.
MS
  • Life after a stem cell transplant: The BBC’s Caroline Wyatt had a stem cell transplant in Mexico to reboot her immune system. A year later, she shares how she’s doing. Read Caroline’s story.
  • New drug for secondary progressive MS: Phase 3 clinical trial results show that a new drug could slow down the progression of symptoms for people living with secondary progressive MS. Get the scoop.
Mental health
  • Ever heard of forest bathing? Research from the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo found that just standing in the woods could reduce depression scores and improve immune function. They also found some surprising benefits of dirt… Get the full story.
  • Looking closer at medical marijuana strains and doses: A new study draws from user-reported data on marijuana smoking habits to understand the effect of weed on depression and anxiety. From different strains to number of “puffs,” see what was uncovered.
  • Combining treatments for better results: Researchers at the University of Texas found they could boost the positive effects of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) by adding transcranial magnetic stimulation. More info.

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