Java Reduces Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Coffee May Have Health Benefits After All

By Fern Garber
WebMD Medical News

Coffee isn't exactly lauded for its nutritional value, but new research shows it could cut your risk of type 2 diabetes in half.

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not adequately respond to the effects of insulin -- the hormone that affects blood sugar level. Eventually this leads to a rise in blood sugar, which over time can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and blindness. Type 2 diabetes accounts for more than 90% of diabetes and more commonly occurs in overweight people.

Caffeine is known to decrease the body's response to insulin. However, other ingredients found in coffee -- magnesium and chlorogenic acid -- may have beneficial effects, say the researchers.

To test the overall effect of coffee on type 2 diabetes, researchers followed more than 17,000 Dutch adults. After several years of follow-up, those who drank seven or more cups a day were half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared with those who drank less than two cups a day. This held true even after taking other lifestyle factors such as smoking, poor diet, and alcohol into consideration. The study is published in the November issue of The Lancet.

Tea did not appear to have any effect on risk of diabetes. Not enough people in the study drank decaffeinated coffee regularly to determine if the effects would be different.

The long-term effects of drinking too much caffeine are not known and other health issues could develop, study leader R.M. van Dam, MSc, says in a news release. More research is needed to determine the effects of long-term coffee drinking on health. The research team is with the department of nutrition and health at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.