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Coffee may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes
April 24th, 2014
07:44 PM ET

Coffee may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes

Need an excuse to drink yet another cup of coffee today?  A new study suggests that increasing coffee consumption may decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes.

The apparent relationship between coffee and type 2 diabetes is not new.  Previous studies have found that drinking a few cups or more each day may lower your risk - with each subsequent cup nudging up the benefit.

This most recent study, published in the journal Diabetologia, was more concerned with how changing coffee consumption - either increasing it or decreasing it over time - might affect your risk.

The conclusion: People who upped their consumption by more than a cup per day had an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with people whose consumption held steady.  Decreasing coffee consumption by the same amount - more than a cup a day - was associated with a 17% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

The data is based on an analysis of more than 120,000 health professionals already being followed observationally long term.  Researchers looked at the study participants' coffee drinking habits across four years to reach their conclusions.

Just how much coffee each day provides a benefit?

"For type 2 diabetes, up to six cups per day is associated with lower risk," said Shilpa Bhupathiraju, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead study author, citing previous research. "As long as coffee doesn't give you tremors, doesn't make you jittery, it is associated with a lot of health benefits."

In the case of diabetes, the reasons behind the supposed protection conferred by coffee are not clear, but there are theories based on animal research.

One involves chemicals present in coffee - phenolic compounds and lignans - that may improve glucose metabolism, according to Bhupathiraju.  She added that coffee is rich in magnesium, which is also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Coffee drinking linked to longer life

Wait, though.  Before you scramble out to purchase your fourth latte of the day, it is important to note that the type of coffee matters.

Lattes and other types of specialty drinks - often laden with sugar - were not studied.  The type of coffee involved in this study tended to be a simple eight-ounce cup of black coffee containing about 100 milligrams of caffeine.

"People think of (increasing their intake) as going and drinking an extra blended drink," said Bhupathiraju.  "We are not talking about 'frappuchinos' or lattes.  It's black coffee with milk and sugar."

Coffee good for you, but it's OK to hold back

And while coffee may be associated with a reduction in some chronic diseases (not just diabetes, but cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and - according to a New England Journal of Medicine study - with a longer life, overall) scientists are still  reluctant to call coffee a panacea.

That doesn't mean you can't enjoy one more cup in the meantime.


soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. KieranH

    Last week don't drink too much coffee, this week drink coffee. I give up....

    April 27, 2014 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • zandhcats

      I about to say the same when I read the headline.

      April 28, 2014 at 21:39 | Report abuse |
  2. bry

    I bet people that drink lots of coffee drink less sugary drinks thus lowering risk of diabetes and it doesn't have much to do with the coffee itself.

    April 27, 2014 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • George Basham

      Good point, the study could be committing the "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy (the medicine man did his incantation this morning to make the sun rise, the sun did rise, therefore the sacred incantation caused the sun to rise).

      April 27, 2014 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • cj101

      I fully agree with bry and george....all of these "studies" are just analysis of statistics. Faulty logic is used to prove whatever they want.

      April 28, 2014 at 08:23 | Report abuse |
    • beechv35pilot

      All that brilliance over those who performed the study and you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night, too.

      April 28, 2014 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
    • atlwmn

      It depends. I've seen people ruin their coffee with so much sugar and cream that I can guarantee there is no nutritional benefit to what they are drinking. It's not just lattes that are sugary, it's how much people are putting in their regular black coffee too. It's gross.

      April 28, 2014 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
    • mdaneker

      They would have to have factored regular sugar intake as part of the research. I'd certainly hope a huge, gaping detail like that wasn't overlooked.

      April 28, 2014 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • DK

      "These changes in risk were observed for caffeinated, but not decaffeinated, coffee and were independent of initial coffee consumption and 4 year changes in other dietary and lifestyle factors." Give them a *little* credit – they're smart enough to think of these things.

      April 28, 2014 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
  3. George Basham

    Coffee is very acidic and too much caffeine over the long run is not optimal. There are MUCH better ways to get antioxidants and much better ways to address diabetes type II in natural ways, such as cinnamon and olive leaf extract. Also, green tea is definitely a better choice of drinks, the l-therein counteracts the caffeine (about 1/2 of what coffee has) and has tons of health benefits. This is IMO, for those of you who choose to drink coffee along with a healthy diet I'm sure it's fine and your choice of course.

    April 27, 2014 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Thomas A. Hawk

      George, if you read the actual research, you'd find that tea was tested and it didn't work.

      Yes, caffeine is very addictive. That is an issue. It may or may not be worth the risk. One factor might be the person's risk factor for Type II and if other approaches, such as diet change, cinnamon, etc., are helping or not.

      In that tea didn't work, I would guess that caffeine isn't the drug that reduces risk. There could be something else (or a combination of something elses) that gets lost during decaffeination. I suspect it's a combinatin of chemicals.

      Still, it would be nice if you'd read the research article.

      Regardless of if someone should or shouldn't take more coffee, the research is still of value. I would guess it is a mix of chemicals that is lowering risk. This is a first step.

      The research into oatmeal was a first step in lowering LDL. OK, the LDL is down but why? The why appeared to happen at the molecular level while the LDL modules were still in the small intestines (before the could get into the blood).

      Please read the research paper and give the scientists time to figure out the mechanism. Please.

      April 27, 2014 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
    • jack sprat

      I think I would rather drink black coffee, than take an extract of this and an extract of that.

      April 28, 2014 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
  4. katty brown

    Many teachers are not aware that boys are naturally more restless.hi i am great fan of your blog,i am regularly follow your post.every time you give me very useful information that helps me a lot.They are definitely over prescribed.
    I feel for the little kids and the unborn most of all and the parent's expecting to birth perfect babies with 10 fingers and 10 toes.
    -----------------

    April 27, 2014 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. gstlab3

    I wish it was rumored to be bad for you and that most people shunned it like marijuana used to be.,
    It was a lot cheaper even for good stuff just a decade ago.,coffee too.,
    Shoot now even the Chinese are drinking more coffee and that just makes the prices go up and up like good tobacco has when the Chinese get more money and work longer hours than Americans do they can afford to buy the best.,
    I bet their cigarettes taste awesome like the coffee they buy by the ton.
    Quit drinking my coffee and smoking my good stuff up.,
    remember anything good is bad for you!

    April 27, 2014 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Aztecm

    I had a DNA test almost 2 years ago. It showed I was among those considered to be a "High Caffeine Metabolizer". From what I understand, it means my DNA gives my body the instructions to produce an enzyme in my liver that helps break down caffeine more efficiently than in others that do not. I could stand to be corrected on that, but I believe that is how it works. The medical research that is out there and talked about on the DNA sites talks about an ever so slight decrease in heart risk in high metabolizers that drink more caffeine. The opposite is true if you cannot metabolize caffeine well. It supposedly ever so slightly raises your risk of heart issues as you increase your caffeine intake.
    I would find it so interesting to go back into the various study data and attempt to find out who was a high metabolizer and who was not.
    Maybe, just maybe, there would be slightly clearer study results when you put people in the two categories.

    April 27, 2014 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. dwm d

    What a bunch of BS. Are you kidding me? Harvard researchers are this clueless now? Anyone with more than a neuron in his/her brain knows that consuming more than 3 cups of coffee a day is BAD. You have issues if you do. You need to get your life together. THREE CUPS of coffee day?
    I wonder how much these "researchers" AND more importantly CNN is getting paid by Starbucks to spread these pernicious obviously incorrect rumors!
    What sane reader read this: "Previous studies have found that drinking a few cups or more each day may lower your risk – with each subsequent cup nudging up the benefit.," and didn't go: wait, something's wrong here!!
    Wake up America!

    April 27, 2014 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aztecm

      There is new research out that says if you are a "high metabolizer" of caffeine, you DO decrease your risk ever so slightly.
      The slow metabolizers are at highest risk, because they do not break down caffeine nearly as easy.
      Of course you have know whether you are a fast or slow metabolizer.
      Do a search for an article talking about caffeine and genes and metabolism.
      So technically, not incorrect or a rumor. It's based on research.
      By the way, I make all my coffee at home, and have no relation to Starbucks or otherwise.
      Just an average guy that did a spit test, likes coffee, and read research after discovering my genes.

      April 27, 2014 at 18:24 | Report abuse |
    • D.H.

      Pshaw, the whole notion of NEURONS come from these hokey "researcher" people that nobody can trust. Anyone with more than an inkling in his/her brain knows that there can't be EIGHTY BILLION of those neurons in there. You have issues if you do. You need to get your life together. EIGHTY BILLION things inside my skull?
      I wonder how much these "researchers" and more importantly CNN is getting paid by the Ivy League to spread these pernicious obviously incorrect rumors!
      What sane reader read this: "There are as many neurons in the human brain as there are stars in the Milky Way" and didn't go: wait, something's wrong here!! Wake up America!

      April 27, 2014 at 21:46 | Report abuse |
    • Eeyore

      dwmd d, you're not actually a high school graduate, are you?

      April 28, 2014 at 10:03 | Report abuse |
    • beechv35pilot

      I envy your intelligence, dwm. Please comment on EVERY study reported by CNN and point out how stupid everyone is who believes this nonsense because in the end, you ARE as smart as you believe you are. Thank you.

      April 28, 2014 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
    • jack sprat

      I can't tell if you are trolling or just dumb.

      April 28, 2014 at 15:54 | Report abuse |
  8. live4grace

    I like my coffee too .. a little too much as it turns out. Coffee after noon keeps me awake and causes digestive upsets almost any time. But good to know it has benefits as well.

    April 27, 2014 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Herwin

    next thing we know the perfect diet might be pills and iv fluids

    April 28, 2014 at 01:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ughh

    Every single day there is some new "study" claiming you can't eat this, or you can eat that. They are all debunked within a month, yet people call this "real" science and global warming "junk science".

    April 28, 2014 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. George

    So I wonder if decaf coffee has the same benefits, but obviously doesn't carry the caffeine risks...

    April 28, 2014 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kain

    Decaf or regular or does it matter?

    April 28, 2014 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. zack

    Drinking 3 cups of coffee a day is slightly good for your heart, but will make your teeth rot out of your head. Drink water.

    April 28, 2014 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eeyore

      Nonsense. Three cups of coffee daily does no such thing. If it did, most adults would be toothless by their 30s.

      Stop posting such ridiculous crap.

      April 28, 2014 at 09:14 | Report abuse |
    • jack sprat

      Wrong again, that last study I read said coffee was great for your teeth, and people who drank coffee regularly (sans sugar and creme) have lower cavities than the general populace.

      April 28, 2014 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
  14. Cathoryn

    I drink coffee, therefore, I am.

    April 28, 2014 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jim A

    BS! Don't believe this story. This is a lie propagated by the coffee industry,
    because their sales have plummeted.

    Be careful what you read, and where the "facts" come from...

    April 28, 2014 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eeyore

      Where do YOURS come from? Pulledoutofyourazz dot com?

      April 28, 2014 at 17:52 | Report abuse |
  16. 1776usa2016

    If it wouldn't upset my stomach so much I would love to drink more coffee.

    .

    April 28, 2014 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Daniel

    I'm calling BS.

    April 28, 2014 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. edlf2014

    Here it is again. When a 'study' says something may result the 'study' infers it may also not result but the may not is never mentioned. 'Study' admirers accept the 'may' result. My opinion of these 'studies' reflect my opinion of the 'study' that found schoolgirl pregnancies result from their addiction to motherhood.

    April 28, 2014 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eeyore

      Look up "infer' and then "imply," honey. You don't know the difference between the two. And you don't know anything else, either.

      April 28, 2014 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
  19. normsw

    Dad drank 2 cups in the morning and died at 91. Grandpa drank 3 cups in the morning and died at 99.
    So, I drink 2-3 cups in the morning; more than that and I head for the bathroom several times throughout the day!

    April 29, 2014 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. robert dieder

    This message has been brought to you by Starbucks.

    April 29, 2014 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Artemis MA

    I think not eating too many processed sugars and simple starches far is more important than coffee consumption. Actually, a no-brainer.

    April 29, 2014 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sabine Murdoch

    This study is faulty. I'm 71 and drank a lot of coffee during my lifetime, especially during my 20's and 30'. After that I switched to decaf but I became a Type II diabetic in my middle 40's. It's all in the genes.

    May 1, 2014 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.