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Coffee And Diabetes Risk

Drinking 1.5 cups or more of coffee daily seems to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes according to newly published research from Greece. This isn’t the first study to link coffee consumption to a reduced risk of diabetes, and its findings don’t add up to proof that coffee really was responsible for the lower risk seen. But the researchers at Harokopio University in Athens reported that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower levels of an inflammatory marker called serum amyloid, an observation that might explain the link between coffee and diabetes. More than 1,400 men and women age 18 and older were selected for the study in 2001 and 2002. Of this group 816 were deemed “casual” coffee drinkers who consumed less than 1.5 cups per day while 385 participants were “habitual” coffee drinkers who consumed 1.5 cups or more daily. The remaining 239 participants didn’t drink coffee at all. When the study ended 10 years later, 191 men and women in the study group had developed diabetes; the risk among habitual coffee drinkers was 54 percent lower than that of the other groups in the study even after the researchers accounted for such factors as smoking, high blood pressure, family history of diabetes and intake of other caffeinated beverages.

My take:  A number of studies have linked habitual coffee consumption to lower rates of type 2 diabetes. One from University of California, Los Angeles, published in 2011 shed new light on why coffee may be protective. The investigators focused on a protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which regulates the activity of testosterone and estrogen, hormones believed to play a role in the development of the disease. The researchers determined that coffee boosts blood levels of SHBG and found that women who drank at least four cups daily had less than half the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to women who didn't drink any coffee.

Bear in mind that lifestyle has a primary influence on the well established risk factors for this disease, which includes being overweight and sedentary. If you have these or other risk factors for type 2 diabetes, don't rely on coffee to protect you.

Coffee Compound Offsets Obesity Effects

The compound under investigation is chlorogenic acid (CGA, for short) and in studies with mice researchers at the University of Georgia found that it can reduce insulin resistance and the accumulation of fat in the liver, two harmful side effects of obesity. Untreated, these side effects can lead to type 2 diabetes and compromised liver function. The researchers noted that earlier studies indicate that regular consumption of coffee may help lower the risks of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in some individuals. For their study, the investigators fed mice a high-fat diet for 15 weeks and injected them twice a week with a solution of CGA. They report that the mice didn't gain the weight normally expected as a result of their high fat diet and that the animals maintained normal blood sugar levels and healthy liver composition. In addition to coffee, CGA is found in apples, pears, tomatoes and blueberries." But don't reach for that second cup just yet - the dose of chlorogenic acid given the mice was much higher than amounts humans would get from drinking coffee and eating the fruits and vegetables that provide the compound, and the researchers don't suggest boosting your coffee intake to get more CGA. Instead, they're hoping to create a CGA based treatment that would provide benefits for humans similar to those observed in mice.

Caffeine and Kids’ Brains

The amount of caffeine kids consume may be disrupting kids' brainsWhile adolescents are fast asleep, their brains are busy maturing, making key connections (synapses), a process that continues until adulthood. But the amount of caffeine kids consume may be disrupting that process, warn a group of Swiss researchers who investigated how caffeine acts on the brains of rats. A study from the team at the University Children’s Hospital Zurich shows that caffeine intake equivalent to three or four cups of coffee per day reduced rats’ deep sleep and delayed the animals’ brain development. The researchers gave 30-day-old rats moderate amounts of caffeine over five days and measured the electrical current generated by their brains. They found that deep sleep periods were reduced from day 31 until day 42, seven days beyond the time the rats received the caffeine. Not only did the rats’ brain maturation slow, but the investigators reported that the animals, which normally grow more curious with age, remained timid and cautious. The researchers suggested that even if rat brains differ clearly from the human brain, there are enough developmental parallels to raise the issue of whether caffeine intake during puberty is harmless. The study was published in PLoS ONE on September 4, 2013.

Nadja Olini, Salomé Kurth, and Reto Huber. “The Effects of Caffeine on Sleep and Maturational Markers in the Rat,” PLoS ONE, September 4, 2013; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072539