Have any other potential mechanisms been studied?

A number of other mechanisms, which might explain the association between type 2 diabetes and coffee consumption, have been studied, and whilst the results are not detailed enough to enable firm conclusions to be reached, the insights are varied and fascinating and give hint of the complex nature of systems within our bodies.

  • A Japanese study investigated a possible association between psychological factors and diabetes, reporting that the risk of diabetes increased with an increasing stress level, especially among men; and among women who showed an increasing level of type A behaviour (i.e. behaviour patterns linked to competitive drive, speed and impatience, aggressiveness and irritability)51. This study also observed an inverse association between coffee consumption and incidence of diabetes. Interestingly, further research has suggested that coffee consumption was inversely associated with depressive symptoms amongst a group of patients with type 2 diabetes. The authors suggested this might be due to biologically active compounds in coffee in addition to caffeine52.
  • A US case-control study on postmenopausal women examined whether plasma levels of sex hormones and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) could account for the inverse association between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes risk, building on data that implicated the important roles of sex hormones in the development of type 2 diabetes. SHBG may directly mediate intracellular signalling of sex hormones. The study found a correlation between coffee consumption and plasma levels of SHBG. This association was not, however, found for decaffeinated coffee and tea. The authors note that these findings suggest SHBG may account for the inverse association between caffeinated coffee and type 2 diabetes risk53.

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