Coffee may reduce the risk of becoming diabetic

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DRINKING more coffee can result in an “immediate” reduction in diabetes risk, according to a major new study.

Experts have found that increasing intake by more than one cup a day was associated with an 11 per cent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes over the next four years. Reducing consumption by at least one cup had the opposite effect, raising diabetes risk by 17 per cent. People drinking three cups or more were 37 per cent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those consuming one cup or less.

The research, involving almost 124,000 men and women, adds to previous evidence linking coffee drinking and protection from diabetes. Unlike previous studies, it only found a positive association with caffeinated coffee – possibly because so few drank decaf.

The authors, led by Professor of Nutrition Frank Hu, from the Harvard School of Public Health in the USA, wrote in the journal Diabetologia: “Changes in coffee consumption habits appear to affect diabetes risk in a relatively short amount of time.”

But Diabetes UK’s research communications officer, Dr Richard Elliott, urged caution, adding: “Other factors that this study has not identified could also be involved and it is even possible that being at high risk of Type 2 diabetes encourages people to reduce their coffee intake. What we do know is that the best way to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy, balanced diet and by being regularly physically active.”

A study published in the journal Diabetes Care in February, also led by Prof Hu, showed consuming six cups of coffee a day lowered Type 2 diabetes risk by a third compared with drinking no coffee. In that study, it made no difference whether or not the coffee contained caffeine. For the new research, scientists analysed diet and lifestyle investigations.

More than two million people in the UK have diagnosed Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body produces too little insulin or fails to respond to the hormone properly, raising blood sugar.