Coffee now a health product

Thursday, 01 July, 2004

That essential morning coffee may be just what the doctor ordered: coffee could help ward off adult onset diabetes, says Finland's National Public Health Institute.

The study of 14,600 Finns found that women who drank three to four cups of coffee daily had a 29% reduced risk of developing diabetes while men who drank the same amount lowered their risk by 27%. Coffee's apparent protective effect, the mechanism of which remains a mystery, increased with consumption. Women who drank 10 or more cups a day had nearly an 80% lowered risks, while in men, it reduced their risk by 55%, the study says.

Although there was little evidence to suggest coffee was a major health risk, a good diet and exercise remained the best in the defence against diabetes, said Diabetes Australia's research and development manager, Alan Barclay. "I think it is just too early for us to tell people to start drinking coffee to reduce the risk of developing Type II diabetes," he said.

In January Harvard researchers said a look at 125,000 people found men who drank six cups a day cut their diabetes risk by half over 12 to 18 years, while women who drank that amount had a 30% lowered risk. A recent Dutch study found similar effects. They said the reasons for the apparent beneficial effects remain unclear, though it was possible that chlorogenic acid in coffee may indirectly help regulate blood glucose levels.

It is well documented that caffeine stimulates insulin secretion by the pancreas, the report said. While coffee may prove to be a conqueror of Type II diabetes, the health benefits of the popular drink have been a contentious issue for medical researchers. Low birth weight, reduction in fertility because of damaged sperm and mood swings have been identified as side effects of excessive coffee consumption.

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