Study: Drinking coffee fends off diabetes

Good news for you, sir.
Good news for you, sir.
Image: Reuters/Marko Djurica
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Good news for coffee drinkers: If you’re a long-term caffeine user, you might be less likely to develop diabetes than people who don’t drink coffee at all. The anti-inflammatory effect of the drink might be the reason for this outcome, according to a new study published in Nature’s European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A team of Greek researchers from the department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University in Athens conducted an extensive study on the lifestyle and diet of 3,000 people from Athens between 18 and 89 years old, examining their health between 2001 and 2002, and then again a decade later.

The participants were divided into three coffee consumption categories: casual (less than one and a half cups per day), habitual (more than one and a half cups per day), and abstinent.

The researchers tested the blood of the participants to evaluate the levels of proteins that mark inflammation, and measured their antioxidant levels. Ten years later, the team did a follow-up research, and found that 13 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women had developed diabetes.

The researchers found out that, compared with abstainers, individuals who consume one and a half cups of coffee per day or more (the “habitual” group) had a 54 percent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

One of the inflammation markers was observed to be lower in habitual coffee drinkers. The antioxidant components of coffee may have this beneficial effect, the researchers say.

There is some evidence that drinking coffee can have a harmful effect on those already suffering from diabetes, but several other studies have also highlighted the positive role that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee can have when it comes to diabetes prevention.

How you take your coffee can make a difference, however, as Rob van Dam from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health points out. Coffee drinks loaded with sugar and fat, like Starbucks’ Frappuccinos, aren’t going to reduce your diabetes risk.

“This could lead to weight gain over time,” said van Dam, “which could in turn increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, and that’s a major concern.”