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A cup (or more) of coffee or tea a day could keep Type 2 diabetes away

December 14, 2009 |  1:01 pm

Did you make a stop at your favorite coffee place today for some java or a cup of tea? If not, you may want to schedule one for tomorrow. Because a new study shows that coffee and tea consumption--even decaf versions--could help lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Kf6n1qnc The study, which appears today in Archives of Internal Medicine, is a meta-analysis of 457,922 people in 18 studies published between 1966 and 2009 that looked at the link between drinking coffee and diabetes risk. After analyzing the research, the study authors concluded that every extra cup of coffee consumed in one day was correlated with a 7% decrease in the excess risk of diabetes. Even better results were found for bigger coffee and tea consumers--drinking three to four cups a day was associated with about a 25% reduced diabetes risk compared with those who drank between none and two cups day.

Researchers also saw positive results with decaf coffee and tea (some tea varieties do have caffeine, but typically far less than the average cup of coffee). People who drank more than three to four cups of decaf a day had about a one-third lower risk than those who didn't drink any. And tea drinkers who consumed more than three to four cups a day had about a one-fifth lower diabetes risk than non-tea drinkers.

Because the decreased risk was seen among those who didn't consume caffeine, researchers concluded that that substance couldn't be the only key ingredient. Attention has been focused on other chemicals found in the beverages: magnesium (shown in studies to reduce diabetes risk), lignans (plant-derived chemical compounds that have antioxidant properties), and chlorogenic acids (also plant-derived antioxidants that slow down glucose release after eating).

In the study, researchers speculated that identifying the components of coffee and tea active in reducing Type 2 diabetes risk could potentially pave the way for new therapies to treat the disease. Health experts could also recommend drinking coffee and tea to at-risk patients, in addition to counseling them to exercise more and lose weight.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Alex Garcia / Chicago Tribune

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