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6th April 2023
In a case-controlled study, Iranian researchers have determined that drinking black or green tea, coffee and non-alcoholic beverages are associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), whereas in contrast, for instance, a higher intake of carbonated beverages, increases the risk.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults worldwide and a 2020 study estimated that, globally, some 2.8 million people are living with the condition. Although the underlying cause remains uncertain, there is evidence that certain dietary factors may have an effect. For example, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, coffee and fish have been shown to be inversely associated with progression of disability in relapsing onset MS, but not in progressive onset MS. In fact, it has been suggested that a high coffee consumption may decrease the risk of developing MS. While it is known that polyphenolic compounds such as resveratrol exhibit several other biological/biochemical protective effects on the heart, circulation, brain and age-related diseases, the Iranian researchers wondered if black or green tea (which also contains several polyphenols) may exert a protective effect in MS.
The researchers performed case-control study on 150 patients with MS and 300 healthy individuals who served as a control group. Data on demographic and beverage consumption was collected by a questionnaire and analysed by univariate and multiple logistic regression models.
Black or green tea and multiple sclerosis
The mean age of the MS patients was 38.6 years (80.1% female) which was similar for the control group, (37.2 years) although there were less women (58.5%).
The results showed that drinking black tea was significantly associated with a reduced risk of developing MS (Odds ratio, OR = 0.20, 95% CI 0.10 – 0.37, p < 0.001), as was drinking green tea (OR = 0.29, 95% CI 0.13 – 0.63, p = 0.002), coffee (OR = 0.07) and non-alcoholic beer (OR = 0.48)
In contrast, consumption of natural juice or (OR = 2.49), milk (OR = 5.46) and carbonated beverages (OR = 16.17) were all associated with an increased odds of developing MS.
The researchers acknowledged that a limitation of the study design was the possibility of memory bias and consequently suggested that their findings could be used to design interventional research and to change people’s lifestyles to prevent MS.
Dastoorpoor M et al. A case-control study of drinking beverages and the risk of multiple sclerosis in Iran. J Health Popul Nutr 2023