Coffee lovers may be in luck. Drinking more coffee may actually be good for their health, in more ways than one. In past studies, drinking coffee has been shown to improve many areas of health, from heart disease to cancer, but a recent long-term study focused specifically on the effect of drinking more or less coffee on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that increasing coffee consumption by one and a half cups per day was enough to help lower the risk of diabetes.
The new study was published in the April 2014 edition of Diabetology, a journal for the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. The authors of the study used data from three major, long-term health databases, including the Nurses Health Study (NHS,) the NHS II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HFS.)
Over the course of 20 years, data was collected on the diet, lifestyle and the general health condition, including diseases present, of participants every four years. Researchers took a closer look, in particular, at the amount of coffee and the tea consumed and any relation in terms of type 2 diabetes. They also looked at the difference, if any, between caffeinated and decaffeinated beverages and their effect on diabetes. Questionnaires were also given to identify those with type 2 diabetes.
Of the 7,269 participants they identified with type 2 diabetes, there was a clear difference in those who increased or decreased their coffee consumption over time. Subtracting a cup of coffee per day equated to a 17 percent increased risk for diabetes, while a one and a half cup increase per day resulted in an 11 percent reduced risk. It turns out that the more people drank, the lower risk of type 2 diabetes occurred. Those who consumed more than three cups per day had a 37 percent lower risk of diabetes. However, the same was not true for decaffeinated coffee or tea.
Shilpa Bhupathiraju from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the lead author of the study, stated that people can benefit from drinking up to six cups of coffee per day to reduce the risk of diabetes, as long as the additional caffeine does not cause jitters or other adverse effect. Of course, their research only refers to a plain cup of black coffee and did not involve fancy coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
Bhupathiraju’s study was not the first to examine the role of coffee in reducing the risk of diabetes, but it is unique in that it was a long-term study that looked specifically at the amount of coffee needed to reduce the risk. In as little as four years, a difference was noted in how the increase of coffee could improve people’s health.
Though some studies have found similar benefits for drinking more coffee, including a longer life span, others warn against drinking coffee in excess amounts. Scientists are still not touting coffee as a miracle cure for heart disease, cancer or diabetes, but drinking more coffee can be beneficial, according to this study.
By Tracy Rose