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Could drinking coffee help fight diabetes?

December 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
It seems like every week, there's another medical study involving coffee or tea. But when it comes to Type 2 diabetes, finding something that may lower your risk of developing the disease can be valuable information. Especially, when it's something most of us drink every day. Huntington Beach resident Rick Wong commutes five days a week to the San Fernando Valley. So he loves his coffee.

"I drink at least three to four cups a day," said Wong.

A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds individuals who drank three or four cups of decaf or regular coffee had a 25 percent lower risk for diabetes than those who drank less.

Those who drank three to four cups of green or black tea had a 20 percent lower risk than those who drank none.

"The reasons are not clear. It's probably not the caffeine, it's probably not the magnesium or other elements in the coffee or tea. It might be just antioxidants," said Dr. Norman Lavin, an endocrinologist at Providence Tarzana Medical Center.

Dr. Lavin wrote the "Manual of Endocrinology and Metabolism". He says previous research shows caffeine may actually raise blood sugar. These conflicting reports can be quite confusing.

"It's very interesting. I think they flip-flop back and forth," said Michelle Shultz.

The news about caffeine and diabetes goes back and forth, one day it's good for you, the next day it's not. So this new information about coffee and tea preventing diabetes experts say should be taken with a grain of salt.

"We still need to look at good food -- fruits and vegetables -- exercise and watch your weight. That will help prevent Type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Lavin.

So should you still drink lots of coffee and tea?

Dr. Lavin says the best way to enjoy the benefits is to drink your coffee and tea straight.

Of course, clinical trials are still needed to see whether or not coffee or tea actually does help prevent diabetes. If they do, doctors could add them to the other factors that reduce the risk of diabetes, like exercising, losing weight and eating a healthy diet.


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