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Caffeine Risks May Rattle Diabetic People

Study Shows Caffeine Elevates Blood Glucose Levels in People With Diabetes

Diabetes, Coffee, and Caffeine continued...

"In 2002, we thought this did not make any sense," van Dam says. "This is quite a consistent observation, that coffee has a positive effect on diabetes. But it is becoming increasingly clear it is not the caffeine that is beneficial. The picture is now evolving where we see that some other components of coffee besides caffeine may be beneficial in long-term in reduction of diabetes risk."

In fact, van Dam says, it appears that decaf coffee may actually help people keep their blood sugar under control, whereas regular coffee has a detrimental effect on blood sugar. Caffeine unbalanced by other coffee compounds, he says, may be even worse.

Lane says that if there are anti-diabetes compounds in coffee, they don't offset the harmful effects of caffeine.

"We did do one study where we put caffeine in decaf coffee, and still we saw the same exaggeration of glucose after meals in people with diabetes," he says. "So it seems those other compounds in coffee certainly don't eliminate the caffeine effect we have seen."

So what should people do if they have diabetes or are at high risk of diabetes?

"We take a more nuanced posture -- not that coffee is good for you or bad for you, but that maybe it's better to switch to decaf coffee if you have diabetes or the metabolic syndrome," van Dam says.

Lane says people with diabetes are likely to get different effects from coffee.

"I am not going to say that everyone with diabetes has to quit drinking coffee, but I think those who are concerned about their blood sugar not being as low as they'd like it to be should try quitting coffee," he says. "They will be able to tell right away if it improves their glucose control. And it may help reduce their risk of complications of diabetes or reduce their need for additional diabetes medications."

For regular coffee drinkers, Lane says, quitting caffeine may mean three or four days of headache, sleepiness, or mental grogginess. But it does not mean interminable morning misery.

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