Three cups of coffee a day could help keep diabetes away, scientists say

Health Reporter

Drinking more coffee may slightly reduce your risk of diabetes, and people who drink three or more cups appear to be at the lowest risk of all, an American study has suggested.

Researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health analysed data on more than 120,000 people’s coffee consumption over several years. They found that those who increased their intake by more than a cup a day over a four-year period had an 11 per cent lower chance of developing diabetes in the following years.

Those who had consistently higher coffee consumption – of three or more cups a day – had a risk which was 37 per cent lower than people who consistently drank one or fewer cups a day, researchers found.

The study is the latest to suggest a possible link between coffee and reduced diabetes risk and while the researchers behind the paper said that bigger, clinical trials would be required to confirm their findings, they believe that existing evidence of coffee’s benefit is “well established”.

However, experts in the UK said that it was still not clear that coffee was directly responsible for the lower risk scores shown in the study.

Dr Shilpa Bhupathiraju, from Harvard School of Public Health’s department of nutrition, who co-led the study, said that while exercise and maintaining a healthy diet were by far the best ways to cut the risk of type 2 diabetes, there were also “biologically plausible” theories as to why coffee might also help.

“Coffee has a lot of bio-active compounds, including chlorogenic acid, which we know improves glucose metabolism when tested in animals,” she said. “Coffee is also a rich source of magnesium, which is known to be associated with a  lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The biological plausibility is actually very strong.”

People with type 2 diabetes face problems regulating sugar levels in the body because they cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin, or the cells in the body do not react with insulin. Raised sugar levels can lead to damage to the blood vessels and organs. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, but people over 40 and people of South Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Middle Eastern origins are also at higher risk.

Current health advice suggests that around 400mg – roughly four mugs of instant coffee – is the safe limit for caffeine consumption, although pregnant women are advised to consume half that amount. The cups of coffee referred to in the study had roughly 100mg of caffeine. The association with diabetes risk was not observed for decaffeinated coffee drinkers, nor for tea drinkers.

One of the authors of the new study, Dr Frank Hu, also of Harvard, sits on the USA’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is understood to be considering public recommendations on the benefits of moderate coffee consumption for people at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

However, Dr Richard Elliott a spokesperson for the charity Diabetes UK said that while the findings, published in the journal Diabetologia today, suggested a connection between coffee and diabetes, it was still not certain that increasing coffee intake could really reduce a person’s risk.

“Even if people who drank more coffee did tend to have a lower risk of type 2, it does not necessarily follow that coffee consumption was directly responsible,” he said.

“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.”

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

    £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

    QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

    £35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

    Property Finance Partner

    Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

    Agile Tester

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on