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The scientific evidence indicates that moderate coffee consumption is statistically significantly associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This has potentially important implications in light of the already high and increasing prevalence of this disease.

The association is well-documented in several different populations and shows a consistent dose response, i.e. lower risk at higher consumption levels. Drinking 3-4 cups of coffee per day is associated with an approximate 25% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to consuming none or less than 2 cups per day. Every additional cup of coffee, up to 6-8 cups per day (regular or decaffeinated) is associated with a 5-10% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Moderate coffee consumption is typically defined as 3-5 cups per day, based on the European Food Safety Authority’s review of caffeine safety.

The statistically significant association, in combination with the consistent dose response relationship, is a strong indication for a true association between moderate coffee consumption and the lower incidence of type 2 diabetes. What is still lacking is a plausible mechanism to explain this association. There is no clear consensus on a potential mechanism, although observations of beneficial effects of coffee consumption on some markers of subclinical inflammation are promising.

The association between coffee/caffeine consumption and diabetes is specific to type 2 diabetes only. For more information on the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, please refer to the media facts and figures section.

The content in this Topic Overview was last edited in November 2016. Papers in the Latest Research section and further resources are added regularly.

This information is intended for Healthcare professional audiences.
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