Coffee: A new miracle drug for diabetics?
Have a cup of coffee to wash down those aspirins. In fact, have
six. Every day.
No one really understands how aspirin works on so many modern
day maladies, but millions now take at least one a day to stave
off heart disease.
Now, a startling bit of research from the Harvard School of
Public Health indicates that heavy coffee consumption -- and
they mean six or more eight-ounce cups
a day -- can cut the risk of type 2 diabetes in men by 50 per
cent and in women by 30 per cent.
That's formula-shattering stuff, since coffee has long been
on the hate list of food purists. And, naturally, the results
come with a caution from experts who say it may not be the coffee,
but rather something about the people drawn to drink it that
"The evidence is quite strong that regular coffee is protective
against diabetes," said one of the researchers, Dr. Frank
Hu. "The question is whether we should recommend coffee
consumption as a strategy. I don't think we're there yet."
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, typically
shows up in middle-aged people. Unlike type 1 diabetes, in which
the pancreas does not generate enough insulin, in type 2 diabetes,
the insulin is usually there -- but the body cannot use it properly
to control the amount of sugar in the system.
Over time, the resulting higher sugar levels can lead to blindness,
heart disease, kidney failure and nerve damage, even amputations.
Previous studies had shown that caffeine reduces insulin sensitivity
in the body and raises sugar levels, making the new findings
But researchers point out that, in addition to caffeine, coffee
contains minerals and other agents such as potassium, magnesium
and antioxidants that might counter the effects of caffeine
in small doses and actually stave off the onset of diabetes.
Supporting the idea that it may be something other than caffeine,
or something that works in combination with caffeine, was a
finding that decaf drinkers also benefit from consumption. There
was a 25 per cent risk reduction for men and 15 per cent for
women who consumed large quantities of decaf coffee and,
bad news for many New Zealanders, no statistically significant
link between diabetes and tea.
The new findings support an earlier, much smaller Dutch study
which indicated that people who drank
at least seven cups of coffee a day were half as likely to develop
type 2 diabetes than people who drank two cups or less.
In the latest study, every two to four years over a period of
12 to 18 years, more than 126,000 people filled out questionnaires
reporting, among other things, their intake of coffee and tea.
Researchers adjusted the data for risk factors such as smoking,
exercise and obesity, according to AP.
Dr. Nathaniel Clark of the American Diabetes Association was
vexed at the wide publicity the study received.
He told the Associated Press, "I'm often frustrated by
this type of research because the public is bombarded with these
stories and they don't know what they're supposed to do."
The study -- "Coffee Consumption and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Mellitus" -- was published today in the Annals of Internal
Researchers credited by the study were Eduardo Salazar-Martinez,
MD, PhD; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH; Alberto Ascherio, MD,
DrPH; JoAnn E. Manson, MD, DrPH; Michael F. Leitzmann, MD, DrPH;
Meir J. Stampfer, MD, DrPH; and Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD