Coffee prevents Lou Gehrig's Disease?

Could this be a result that we (gasp) find interesting?

Italian researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology that coffee drinking was inversely association with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

On the positive side for this study, the incidence of ALS was 60% less in current coffee drinkers vs. never drinkers. This 60% decline moves the inverse association slightly out of the weak association range.

So while that is encouraging, 60% of the ALS cases in the study were current coffee drinkers vs. 70+% for the controls. So if there is some preventative benefit from coffee drinking, it would seem to be small. In any event, food with magical health benefits is unlikely to exist.

Here’s the study abstract:

The relation between coffee intake and risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was investigated in 377 newly diagnosed ALS patients from 4 Italian population-based registries in the European ALS Consortium (EURALS Group) (2007–2010). For each patient, 2 age- and sex-matched hospital controls were selected, one from a neurology department and one from a nonneurologic department. Two additional healthy control groups were identified from local general practitioners’ (GPs’) lists (n = 99) and residents of the same area as a cancer cohort (n = 7,057). Coffee intake was defined in terms of status (ever consuming coffee daily for ≥6 months vs. never), duration, and history (never, former, or current). Ever coffee drinkers comprised 74.7% of ALS patients, 80.4% of neurologic controls, 85.6% of nonneurologic controls (P = 0.0004), 88.9% of GP controls (P = 0.0038), and 86.0% of cancer cohort controls (P < 0.0001). Current coffee drinkers comprised 60.2% of ALS patients, 70.2% of neurologic controls (P = 0.0294), 76.4% of nonneurologic controls (P < 0.0001), and 82.3% of GP controls (P = 0.0002); duration of intake was ≥30 years for 62.3%, 67.7%, 74.7%, and 72.6%. ALS patients had lower lifetime coffee exposure: Odds ratios were 0.7 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.5, 1.1), 0.6 (95% CI: 0.4, 0.8), and 0.4 (95% CI: 0.2, 0.9) in comparison with neurologic, nonneurologic, and GP controls, respectively. In current (vs. never) coffee drinkers, odds ratios were 0.7 (95% CI: 0.5, 1.0), 0.5 (95% CI: 0.3, 0.7), and 0.4 (95% CI: 0.2, 0.8), respectively. These findings provide epidemiologic evidence of an inverse correlation between coffee intake and ALS risk.

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