Can that extra cup cut diabetes risk?

Is an extra cup of coffee enough to cut your risk of diabetes?

A new study by Harvard researchers suggests that those who increased their coffee consumption by one and a half cups each day over a four-year period reduced their risk of Type 2 diabetes by 11 percent. Conversely, those who reduced their coffee consumption by more than a cup per day had a 17 percent higher risk of developing diabetes.

The study, published in the journal Diabetologia, looked back at the results of three large population studies that when examined together included almost 100,000 women and 28,000 men over many years. They included the Nurses’ Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

Dr. Eugenio Cersosimo, medical director of clinical research at University Health System’s Texas Diabetes Institute, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said the findings add to a body of research that shows a “weak, though promising association between moderate coffee consumption and the reduced risk of developing diabetes.”

“I would still recommend mild-to-moderate consumption of coffee for those who enjoy it, but on the basis of this study, I do not feel comfortable suggesting a switch from drinking tea to coffee,” said Cersosimo, associate professor of medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio.

Cersosimo pointed out that caffeine may not be the most important ingredient in the anti-diabetetic effects of the drink, since the study did not find a similar decrease in risk for those who drank caffeinated tea. And such studies don’t adequately explore the balance between coffee consumption and other factors such as family history, obesity, inactivity and diet.

The best strategy for reducing diabetes risk continues to be regular exercise and a sensible diet that includes “small portion-size meals — preferably with low-glycemic index foods and mild animal fat intake — and a higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts and fiber-rich nutrients, as well as olive oil,” Cersosimo said. All have been associated with improved heart health and reduced risk of diabetes.

Image by David Dewitt