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Apr 25, 2014

Coffee Could Reduce Diabetes Risk

Coffee drinkers rejoice: Increasing coffee consumption reduces risk for type 2 diabetes, according to new research.

The more coffee you drink, the better, according to research suggesting that increasing coffee consumption helps protect against type 2 diabetes.

Published in the medical journal, Diabetologia, this study looked at changes in coffee and tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes—the most common form of diabetes that affects as many as 25 million Americans. Nearly 124,000 adults participated in the study, providing detailed information on diet, lifestyle and medical conditions every 2–4 years for more than 20 years. Research was led by Dr. Frank Hu and Dr. Shilpa Bhupathiraju from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

After analysis, Harvard researchers found that individuals increasing coffee consumption by more than one cup a day over a four-year period had 11% lower risk for type 2 diabetes. And not surprisingly, those who consumed three cups a day or more consistently during the study period had 37% lower diabetes risk than those who only consumed one cup or less a day. In contrast, participants who decreased their coffee intake by one cup a day or more had 17% higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Changes in tea consumption and decaffeinated coffee had no significant impact on diabetes risk.

Findings confirm what previous research has also shown—that higher coffee consumption is associated with lower risk for type 2 diabetes. This study also offers new evidence that changing coffee consumption over just a short period of time may impact diabetes risk. In other words, we may be able to help significantly reduce diabetes risk by simply increasing coffee intake. However, more research is needed to understand exactly how coffee impacts diabetes risk before experts begin to recommend changing coffee consumption to improve health.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce any insulin—a hormone that converts sugar into energy. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults and cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, however, occurs when the body resists insulin or does not produce enough insulin, and can be prevented in some patients.
  • How can I prevent type 2 diabetes?

  • Although unknown exactly why some individuals develop type 2 diabetes and some don’t, there are some known risk factors for this condition, like being overweight and inactive. There are also risk factors that can’t be controlled, such as family history, age and race.

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