E Beghi et al, 2011. Coffee and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a possible preventive role, American Journal of Epidemiology, published online ahead of print.

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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 ¼ 0.0294), 76.4% of nonneurologic controls (P < 0.0001), and 82.3% of GP controls (P ¼ 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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