The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown. What we do know is that it is a combination of environmental and genetic factors that lead to its development.
Research (link here) shows coffee, cigarettes and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (i.e. ibuprofen) are associated with lower risk of developing PD… BUT, becoming a quad-americano regular with a pack-a-day habit is probably going to do more harm than good.
It has been suggested that the association of cigarettes is due to the fact that:
1. persons with PD exhibit personality differences; for example, persons predestined to get PD are more likely to choose not to smoke, due to their inherent neuropsychological states (personality) that are influencing lifestyle behaviors
2. nicotine may stimulate dopamine release (the chemical that is degenerated in PD), and can therefore suppress signs of PD
(Morens, Grandinetti, Reed, White, & Ross, 1995)
1. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant (adenosine receptor antagonism). Caffeine may act to remove inhibition of dopamine neurotransmission (caffeine and dopamine share similar receptors) and thereby increases dopamine release. So basically, it can be a form of self-medication that decreases clinical expression of Parkinsonism.
2. Also, personality may be an influence. Perhaps behavioural factors (inherent personality) make persons likely to develop Parkinson’s disease choose to not drink coffee.
(Ross, Abbott, Petrovitch, et al. JAMA 2000)
1. inhibit cyclooxygenaze enzymes involved in inflammation. The inflammatory process have been implicated in PD pathology (due to glial activation and pro-inflammatory cytokines).
2. have been shown to reduce loss of dopamine and associated neurons
3. are hydroxyl-radical scavengers (i.e. clean-up free radicals, which may play a critical role in PD occurrence)
(Chen, Zhang, Miguel et al., Arch Neurol 2003)
Just a note,
…this information needs to be digested with caution. A lot of this research is done by statistical analysis of medical records and health history, and there is a fine line between “associations” (a possible common etiological factor) and direct “cause-and-effect”.
So PLEASE, don’t grab a pack of smokes, pop some aspirin and chug a double-double on your way home… much love.
coming soon… Part 2: diet, dairy, head trauma and risk of Parkinson’s disease