Drinking coffee may lower risk of multiple sclerosis
People who drink four to six cups of coffee daily may be less likely to get multiple sclerosis, according to international research out Thursday.
"Caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases," said lead author Ellen Mowry of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
"Our study shows that coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea that the drug may have protective effects for the brain," she added.
The findings of a US and Swedish study -- released ahead of the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Washington -- each compared more than 1,000 MS patients to a similar number of healthy people.
Researchers tracked how much coffee the subjects drank in the one, five and 10 years before symptoms began for those afflicted with MS.
After accounting for other factors such as age, sex, smoking, body mass index and sun exposure, the Swedish study found that "compared to people who drank at least six cups of coffee per day during the year before symptoms appeared, those who did not drink coffee had about a one and a half times increased risk of developing MS."
Similar protective effects were seen among those who drank lots of coffee five to 10 years before symptoms appeared.
The US study found that "people who didn't drink coffee were also about one and a half times more likely to develop the disease than those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day in the year before symptoms started to develop."
More research is needed to determine if caffeine in coffee has any impact on relapse or long-term disability due to MS, an incurable disease of the central nervous system that affects 2.3 million people worldwide.
The study was funded by the Swedish Medical Research Council, the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute on Aging.
Two more women pregnant after successful womb transplants
Two more women who became pregnant after having womb transplants are due to deliver in the next few weeks and that could be the start of a new wave of babies born this way, say the Swedish doctors who pioneered the technique.
"It means a lot to me that we are able to help patients who have tried for so long to have families," said Dr. Mats Brannstrom, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the University of Gothenburg, who led the project that brought about last month's pioneering birth. "This is the last piece of the puzzle in finding a treatment for all women with infertility problems."
Brannstrom predicted there would soon be many more babies born to women who have received donated wombs in countries where doctors are studying the technique, including Australia, Britain, the U.S., Japan and China.
Brannstrom said he has also started work on trying to grow a womb in the lab. That involves taking a womb from a deceased donor, stripping it of its DNA, then using cells from the recipient to line the structure. He has started preliminary tests in animals and estimated it would be another five years before the technique can be tried on humans.
While that may sound like science fiction, the techniques that led to the birth announced last week also sounded outlandish just years ago. "It makes what was formerly impossible possible," said Dr. Nannette Santoro, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado. She was not involved in Brannstrom's research.
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