Could More Coffee Lower Your Odds for Diabetes?
Yes, says study, but experts note there are better ways to reduce the risk
"However, as with everything else, the message is not drinking coffee to prevent diabetes, but rather balancing all good elements in life so they can all be used and consumed with moderation," he said.
Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said a drawback of the study is that the data was all self-reported by the participants.
"You don't know if they are telling the truth," he said.
Moreover, weight loss and exercise are more effective ways to reduce diabetes risk than drinking more coffee, Mezitis said.
"I am not recommending that anyone drink coffee to prevent diabetes," he said.
For the study, Hu's team collected data from three major U.S. studies: the Nurses' Health studies of 1986-2006 and 1991-2007, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study of 1986-2006.
Study participants completed questionnaires every four years that included their coffee and tea intake. Overall, 7,269 cases of type 2 diabetes were reported.
The researchers calculated that people who increased their coffee consumption by more than one cup a day for four years reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the next four years by 11 percent compared with those who didn't boost their daily coffee intake.
However, people who drank at one less cup of coffee or more daily over the four years had a 17 percent higher risk for diabetes in the subsequent four years, the researchers said.
Hu's group defined a cup of coffee as 8 ounces of coffee, black or with a small amount of milk and/or sugar. Drinking coffee loaded with sugar or cream may reduce any benefit coffee may have in reducing diabetes risk, Hu said.
The findings only applied to caffeinated coffee. Decaffeinated coffee and caffeinated tea weren't associated with changes in risk for type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.
Dr. Alyson Myers, an endocrinologist at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., said coffee alone might not account for the reduced diabetes risk.
"It is unclear if the extra cup of coffee may cause these patients to eat less, as they may become full faster," she said.
Noting that the study consisted of health care professionals, Myers said the results might not reflect the entire population. Also, the study doesn't address physical activity. "Perhaps those who drank caffeinated coffee had the energy to work out more," she said.