Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Coffee May Protect Against Diabetes

Study Shows Coffee Drinkers Have a Reduced Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 25, 2006 -- There is more evidence that the American love affair with coffee is helping to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Drinking caffeinated coffee was found to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 60% in a newly published study that included people at high risk for the disease.

Even those who used to drink coffee but quit were less likely to develop diabetes than those who never drank it.

The new study was published in the November issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

"Our findings were very strong," researcher Besa Smith, MPH, tells WebMD. "The next step is to pinpoint the compounds in coffee responsible for this protective effect."

The new research is not the first to find that coffee drinkers have an edge in terms of protection from diabetes.

A Finnish study, reported in 2004, suggested a 30% reduction in type 2 diabetes risk among people who drank three or four cups of coffee a day. Women in the study who drank 10 or more cups a day showed a 79% reduction in risk.

And combined results from 15 studies involving more than 200,000 participants suggested a similar protective effect. People who drank the most coffee had the lowest diabetes risk in the review, conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.

A Unique Study

The study by Smith and colleagues from the University of California San Diego was unique because it included people at high risk for type 2 diabetes whose blood sugar levels were higher than normal.

The condition, known as impaired glucose tolerance, is considered a strong predictor of diabetes.

A total of 910 adults were followed for an average of eight years after an assessment of their coffee drinking habits was conducted. The average age of the participants was 66; 41% were men.

After adjusting for other known diabetes risk factors, the researchers concluded that both past and current drinkers of caffeinated coffee had about a 60% reduction in diabetes risk, compared with study participants who never drank coffee.

A similar reduction in risk was seen among the roughly one-third of study participants with impaired glucose tolerance.

The researchers did not exclude people who drank decaffeinated coffee from the study, but too few participated to draw conclusions.

Searching for a Reason

It is not clear how coffee affects diabetes risk, but Smith says the benefits are probably not due to caffeine.

"It appears that there are other compounds in coffee responsible for this," she says.

Studies are needed to isolate the component or components responsible for the protective effect against diabetes, Smith says.

She adds that it is premature to recommend coffee drinking as a public health strategy for lowering the risk of diabetes.

American Diabetes Association spokesman Larry Deeb, MD, agrees. But he says there is little evidence that drinking coffee is bad for people with diabetes.

Deeb directs the diabetes center at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital; he is president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association.

"People with diabetes and those at risk for developing diabetes have enough to worry about," Deeb tells WebMD. "It is nice to know that coffee isn't one of them, and it may actually help lower risk."

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections