May Lower Diabetes Risk
Drinking more coffee may reduce the
risk of developing the most common form of diabetes, a study found.
Compared to non-coffee drinkers,
men who drank more than six eight-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee
per day lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by about half, and
women reduced their risk by nearly 30 percent, according to the
study in the latest issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
Nevertheless, experts said more
research is needed to establish whether it really is the coffee
or something else about coffee drinkers that protects
"The evidence is quite strong that
regular coffee is protective against diabetes," said one of the
researchers, Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health.
"The question is whether we should recommend coffee consumption
as a strategy. I don't think we're there yet."
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called
adult-onset diabetes, typically shows up in middle-aged people.
The disease is on the rise and is striking more and more young
people as Americans become fatter and less active.
People with type 2 diabetes either
do not make enough insulin or their bodies don't use it properly.
It leads to higher blood sugar levels, which over time can cause
blindness, heart disease, kidney failure and nerve damage and
can lead to amputations.
Caffeine has previously been found
to reduce insulin sensitivity and raise blood sugar both
bad news for the body. But the researchers note that coffee, whether
it is regular or decaffeinated, also contains potassium, magnesium
and antioxidants that might counteract those negative effects
and improve the body's response to insulin.
In the latest study, every two
to four years over a period of 12 to 18 years, more than 126,000
people filled out questionnaires reporting, among other things,
their intake of coffee and tea. Researchers adjusted the data
for risk factors such as smoking, exercise and obesity.
There was a more modest effect
among decaf drinkers: a 25 percent risk reduction for men and
15 percent for women. There was no statistically significant link
between diabetes and tea.
The results are in agreement with
those from a 2000 study of 17,000 Dutch adults, which concluded
that people who drank at least seven cups of coffee a day were
half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who drank
two cups or less.
Dr. Nathaniel Clark of the American
Diabetes Association expressed concerns that such reports divert
public attention toward illusory quick-fixes and away from proven
diabetes-stoppers: diet, weight loss and exercise.
"While we're always happy when
there's research looking at what people can do to reduce their
risk," he said, "I'm often frustrated by this type of research
because the public is bombarded with these stories and they don't
know what they're supposed to do."
The study's co-author stressed
that no one should conclude that coffee is a "magic bullet."
"It's important to emphasize that
by far the most important preventions are maintaining a healthy
weight and exercising," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive
medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention estimates that 18.2 million Americans, or more
than 6 percent of the population, have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes
accounts for between 90 percent and 95 percent of the total.
On the Net:
Annals of Internal Medicine: https://www.annals.org
American Diabetes Association:
Reference Source 102