Evergreen Neurologist Co-Authors New Study Linking Coffee, Genetics and Parkinson's Disease Prevention
A recent study co-authored by Evergreen Healthcare neurologist Dr. Pinky Agarwal finds good news for coffee drinkers: consuming caffeinated coffee may significantly reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease in some men and women depending on their genetics, according to research recently published by the Public Library of Science.
According to the study, researchers identified a connection between coffee's protective qualities and a gene known as GRIN2A, which regulates brain signals that control movement and behavior.
On average, heavy coffee drinkers were found to have 27 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, regardless of the genes they carry. The risk was even less for heavy coffee drinkers who carry a specific variation of GRIN2A. They have 59 percent less chance of developing the disease, according to the research.
Parkinson's disease, which affects more than 50,000 Americans each year, is a progressive disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement. Symptoms, which are most common in those over 50, often include tremors, muscle tension and changes in speech or gait.
"Researchers have long studied the relationship between coffee and Parkinson's disease with results often showing that all people do not benefit equally from consuming varying amounts of caffeinated coffee. Through this study, we have proven the benefits of using genetic evidence to determine new risk factors for Parkinson's," said Dr. Agarwal. "We think the results will contribute to more personalized treatment for and prevention of this disease."
Dr. Agarwal, a neurologist at Evergreen Hospital's Booth Gardner Parkinson's Care Center in Kirkland, co-authored the study alongside a team of nationally recognized specialists within a range of fields including oncology, epidemiology, neurology, genetics and environmental health studies.
Dr. Agarwal has been a principal researcher on numerous clinical trials and worked previously as Director of Clinical Research at The Colorado Neurological Institute. She is also fellowship-trained in Movement Disorders at The Neurological Institute at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York.
"Evergreen is proud to be a leader in the study, prevention and treatment of Parkinson's disease," stated Evergreen Healthcare CEO Bob Malte. "Dr. Agarwal's expertise is especially crucial to our work, and helps us deliver comprehensive, individualized care to patients who suffer from the disease."