Drink coffee to cut diabetes risk

Fri Nov 8, 6:16 AM ET

By Patricia Reaney

LONDON (Reuters) - Good news for coffee drinkers -- the cup that helps millions of people get started in the morning, and several more cups throughout the day, may reduce the risk of diabetes, Dutch researchers say.

Scientists at Vrije University in Amsterdam said components in coffee seem to help the body metabolise sugar, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes, which affects 130 million people world-wide.

"This is the first study that comes up with the idea that coffee could actually be beneficial for type 2 diabetes," said Rob van Dam of the university's department of nutrition and health.

Whether it's filter, cappuccino, latte or espresso, coffee contains minerals such as magnesium, potassium and other micronutrients that have health benefits.

Van Dam and his team do not know which of the compounds in coffee are involved or how they work against diabetes, but when they compared coffee consumption with the risk of type 2, or adult onset diabetes, they found the more people drank, the lower their risk.

Individuals who drank seven or more cups of coffee a day, were 50 percent less likely to develop the disease. Fewer cups a day had less of an impact.

"For most people it is not bad to drink moderate amounts of coffee," Van Dam said.

But he said the findings, which are reported in The Lancet medical journal and need to be confirmed in other studies, do not mean people should drink large amounts of coffee every day.

Studies have shown drinking too much coffee can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease, in some people, according to Van Dam.

"It's quite an individual choice to drink coffee or not,"

Van Dam said in an interview.

But he added if scientists knew more about the active components in coffee, it might be possible to make a type of coffee or another product with more of the beneficial compounds and fewer of the detrimental ones.

Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by a deficiency or lack of insulin. Type 2 diabetes is caused by an inability to make enough, or properly to use insulin. Type 1 sufferers do not produce enough insulin and need daily injections.

Most people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Excess weight is the most common and avoidable risk factor for the illness, which experts estimate will afflict 220 million people by the year 2010.