Feeling guilty about having a fifth cup of coffee at 4 p.m. on a weekday? What if I told you that coffee may be able to protect you from developing Parkinson’s disease? That's exactly what a recent study from Linkoping University in Sweden is suggesting. It explains how the combination of a genetic variant and caffeine can ward off the disease. So go ahead my friends and drink guilt free.

One’s chances of developing Parkinson’s disease are dependent on both genetic and environmental factors. The Swedish study found that individuals who had the variant of the GRIN2A gene and consumed caffeine had significantly lower chances of developing the condition, according to a press release. Although the fact that caffeine aided in Parkinson’s disease prevention was already know, the study was able to shed new light on the reasoning for this on a molecular level.

It seems that caffeine is able to integrate with a dopamine receptor that is needed to regulate the flow of calcium into the cell. Dopamine is part of the human reward system. The researchers speculate that individuals with certain genetic variations are not "rewarded" to the same extent by a cup of coffee, and therefore, they would not enjoy the same protective effects as others. According to the new study, GRIN2A is part of this genetic disposition.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects your movement. The condition cannot be cured but there are medications that can improve the symptoms. The disease is more common among people who are in their middle to later years of life, usually developing around age 60. Having a close relative with the disease also increases your chances of developing it. Men are more likely to develop the disease than women, and ongoing exposure to toxins can also put one at risk.

Recently, the success of treating Parkinson's with fetal-dopamine stem cell transplants have placed hope on the development of future Parkinson’s treatment. For the study, published in the journal Cell Reports, the researchers wrote: "These findings are critically important for the rational development of stem cell-based dopamine neuronal replacement therapies for Parkinson's.”

Source: Yamada-Fowler N, Fredrikson M, Soderkvist P. Caffeine Interaction with Glutamate Receptor Gene GRIN2A: Parkinson's Disease in Swedish Population. PLoS One. 2014.