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.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
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

    SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

    £300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

    KS1 Teacher

    £95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

    HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

    £32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?