Drinking More of This Can Slash Your Parkinson's Risk, Study Says

Researchers found that it can even help those who are genetically predisposed.

When it comes to keeping your heart healthy, it's fairly common knowledge that plenty of exercise and the right diet is crucial. But when it comes to avoiding serious neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease, the preventative measures aren't quite as clear. But it turns out there may be a way to avoid the disease by simply filling up your cup with the right beverage. That's because according to a study, drinking more of this can help reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease—even if you're genetically predisposed to it. Read on to see what you should be sipping on for your brain's sake.

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Drinking more caffeine can help reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

Son giving father a cup of coffee kindly

It may be the morning wake-up ritual for most, but it turns out your cup of coffee or tea might be boosting more than just your energy levels. In a study published in the September 2020 online issue of the medical journal Neurology, tests found that patients with a genetic mutation that predisposes them to Parkinson's disease were less likely to show signs of the disease's onset if they drank more caffeine.

Parkinson's patients had less caffeine in their system than those without it—even when susceptible.

Senior couple drinking coffee at cafe
Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

Researchers compared 188 people who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease with 180 people without it. In each group, some members had the LRRK2 gene mutation that puts someone at higher risk of developing the disease but doesn't guarantee that symptoms will develop. This set researchers out to test whether or not other factors affected the onset of Parkinson's.

The team measured the caffeine levels in each person's blood, with 212 participants from across both groups also providing information on their daily caffeine intake habits. Results found that those carrying the LRRK2 mutation that had been diagnosed with Parkinson's had 76 percent less caffeine in their systems than people without the disease—and also were found to drink 41 percent less caffeine per day than participants who were not diagnosed with the disorder. In addition, those with Parkinson's but who were not carriers of the mutation had 31 percent lower levels of concentration in their bloodstream.

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The findings could help doctors treat and diagnose Parkinson's disease.

Shot of a senior man drinking coffee and looking thoughtfully out of a window

The researchers pointed out that the findings could be a breakthrough in treating the disease and helping diagnose it earlier in its onset. "These results are promising and encourage future research exploring caffeine and caffeine-related therapies to lessen the chance that people with this gene develop Parkinson's," Grace Crotty, MD, the study's author from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said in a release.

"It's also possible that caffeine levels in the blood could be used as a biomarker to help identify which people with this gene will develop the disease, assuming caffeine levels remain relatively stable," she added.

The study's author admitted to some limitations that need further research.

couple sitting side by side on their porch or balcony, drinking coffee. They are looking at something in the distance, squinting to try to figure out what it is.

Crotty pointed that the study had limitations in only testing caffeine at one point in time, constraining the researchers understanding of whether or not it affects the disease's onset or progression. She also admitted that the findings amounted, in this instance, to association, not causation.

The team also said it was possible that carrying the LRRK2 mutation could also make someone less inclined to drink caffeinated beverages. "We don't know yet whether people who are predisposed to Parkinson's may tend to avoid drinking coffee or if some mutation carriers drink a lot of coffee and benefit from its neuroprotective effects," Crotty noted.

RELATED: If You Notice This While Walking, It Could Be an Early Sign of Parkinson's.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more