Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Cure fo MS: Caffeine

by Leane Scoz

Caffeine. The helper that gets people out of bed and out the door in the mornings. The best friend of college students pulling all-nighters. The co-worker that keeps the office staff awake throughout the day. The cure for multiple sclerosis (MS)?

According to a recent Web MD headline on CBS News, a new study involving mice found that large amounts of caffeine blocked key steps in the development of MS. A dose of caffeine, equivalent to six to eight cups of coffee a day, was effective in preventing the compound, adenosine, from getting into the brain and triggering the onset of the disease.

The study is the work of Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist, Linda Thompson, PhD, and according to her, "the results were completely unexpected." The study's principal author, Margaret Bynoe, PhD, does not believe it is wise for people to start drinking more coffee due to these initial results. She acknowledges that caffeine has not been proven to be protective in humans yet and believes future studies may unveil other adenosine blockers that could be more useful. However, the results are still encouraging.

MS is a chronic, often disabling, autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. Numerous physical and mental symptoms occur because of the disease and often progress to physical and cognitive disability. About 400,000 people in the United States have MS. These people are our family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Since a cure does not currently exist for the disease, people suffering from MS rely on treatments, therapies, and research studies for hope.

It is crazy to think that a cure for MS could be in the kitchen pantries of most Americans right now. Hopefully, answers will be available in the near future since studies involving human subjects are in the planning process. Until then, let's all sit back and toast that great cup of java. Who knows...maybe Americans really do run on Dunkin!

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