April 24, 2009

Caffeine Beneficial to Male ALS Patients

Caffeine may benefit men suffering from ALS but it does not appear to have the same beneficial effects for women, according to a new study.

One of the biggest concerns with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, is oxidative stress, which damages the cells. Previous studies have shown positive effects with coffee, caffeine or chlorogenic acid (a dietary polyphenol that is beneficial to the immune system) supplementation in improving oxidative stress and its associated cell death mechanisms.

For this new study, researchers focused on coffee, an antioxidant popular in diets worldwide. In lab studies, mice were divided into groups, with some receiving a normal diet and the other groups receiving coffee, caffeine and chlorogenic acid extracts, respectively. Males and females were analyzed separately.

The researchers said if they were to extrapolate their findings to humans with ALS, then coffee appears beneficial for men. It reduced oxidative stress and cell death and increased antioxidants. But for women, coffee appeared to harmful.

"Women with the disorder may want to restrict caffeine consumption, or switch to decaffeinated products which contain the antioxidants, but with little caffeine," researcher Rajini Seevaratnam was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Study presented at the 122nd Annual Meeting of the American Physiological Society, April 18-22, 2009 in New Orleans