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Dr Russ Blog - Coffee, Tea, Diabetes Free?
Coffee, Tea, Diabetes Free?
Created on 12/29/2009

A few years back, a study was published that concluded that drinking 6 cups of coffee each day could help lessen the risk of type 2 diabetes (DM). I don't know about you, but 6 cups would have me bouncing off nearby walls (I'm a tea drinker)! But what if a lesser amount of coffee also offered a preventive benefit?

Authors of a paper that just appeared in The Archives of Internal Medicine reviewed and analyzed data from previously published studies on coffee or tea intake and associated risk of type 2 DM. They found that for every cup of coffee ingested the excess risk of type 2 DM decreased by 7%. Those who drank 3-4 cups a day had a 25% lesser chance of developing DM compared with people who drank less than 2 cups of coffee each day.

When the study was expanded to include decaffeinated coffee or tea, similar protective benefits were found, again in the range of 3-4 cups per day.

Be a little cautious in interpreting these results, as the information on beverage intake and diagnosis of DM was obtained straight from the people in the study and not by direct observation, measurement or review of their medical records. While unlikely, could they have been drinking less (or more) of the beverages each day, and simply didn't remember exactly how much they've been drinking? Sure.

It's important to also keep in mind that people who drink a lot of coffee each day tend to have other behaviors that are not very good for them (like not exercising daily). On the other hand, tea drinkers have been found to generally follow a healthier lifestyle. BUT, when the researchers factored in these lifestyle tendencies, it made no difference in the results of their review.

So..if you're at risk for type 2 DM, either by being overweight or having a strong family history, for example, it may be a good idea to slightly increase your intake of coffee or tea (for me, tea is preferable because data point to other health benefits that are not yet associated with coffee drinking).

However, check with your doctor FIRST. Why?

Because even decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine, and caffeine can raise our blood pressure, affect our heart's rhythmic beating, and irritate the digestive tract. When caffeinated beverages are ingested after 3:00 in the afternoon they can make it hard for us to fall asleep even 8 hours later.

By the way, the researchers state it's unlikely that caffeine itself is responsibile for the protective benefits of these beverages. Keep in mind that both coffee and tea contain many other active ingredients.

In general, a cup of tea contains less caffeine than a comparable cup of coffee.

The best ways to minimize the risk for type 2 DM are still to exercise every day and eat a healthy diet, but enjoying a few cups of coffee or tea each day may also play a role in keeping us healthy. Enjoy, but don't overdo. If you're bouncing off the walls we'll all know why!

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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