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Coffee May Ease Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) - Should doctors start prescribing coffee? In the latest study to tie coffee to health benefits, new research finds a daily caffeine boost may ease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in sufferers.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative brain disease that causes tremors, difficulty with walking, movement and coordination. The condition most commonly develops in adults over 50, and occurs when nerve cells in the brain that make the muscle-controlling neurotransmitter dopamine are slowly destroyed, leading to loss in muscle function. The cause of the disease remains unknown.

The study, published August 1 in the online issue of Neurology, tracked 61 people with Parkinson’s who were exhibiting symptoms of daytime sleepiness. Participants were assigned to receive either a placebo pill twice per day or a 100 milligram-caffeine pill twice per day for three weeks. After three weeks, those in the caffeine group were given a 200 milligram caffeine pill twice per day, about the caffeine equivalent found in two to four cups of coffee.

Six weeks into the study, people taking the caffeine pills averaged a five-point improvement on a ratings scale of Parkinson’s symptom severity compared to those who took placebos. Researchers called this a modest improvement, but one that might provide benefits to people with the disease.

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