Coffee and tea could lower risk of diabetes

15 December 2009

More than 250 million people around the world are living with diabetes, but new research from the University of Sydney's George Institute suggests that a few cups of tea and coffee each day could help reduce your risk.

Researchers have discovered that high consumption of coffee and tea is associated with a substantially reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. Lead author, Associate Professor Rachel Huxley, says that people who consumed on average three to four cups of coffee a day had one-quarter lower risk of developing diabetes compared to non-coffee drinkers.

"In those individuals drinking more than 3-4 cups of coffee per day, the reduction in risk of developing diabetes was even greater; up to 40 per cent in those drinking more than six cups per day compared with non-coffee drinkers. Interestingly, similar reductions in risk were also observed for tea and decaffeinated beverages suggesting that any diabetes-sparing effect is not driven primarily through caffeine as previously thought."

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis looking at the association between coffee, decaffeinated coffee and tea consumption with the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Data from 18 previously completed research studies were analysed, providing a patient pool of 457,922 individuals. Results were consistent irrespective of variations in preparation, such as filtered versus unfiltered, cup size, cup strength and the addition of milk or sugar.

"Although it is too early to advocate for increased consumption of these beverages, identifying the active components of these beverages would potentially open up new therapeutic pathways for the primary prevention of diabetes", she added.

Diabetes mellitus is one of the greatest threats to the health of populations worldwide with the number of those living with diabetes estimated to increase by 65 per cent to reach 380 million in 2025. Patients with diabetes are at greatly elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, as it more than doubles the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Associate Professor Huxley added that further studies are warranted to investigate these putative protective effects.

Contact: Michelle Wood

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