What are the associations between coffee intake and type 2 diabetes?

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The body of evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that 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 day2-4,6-8,15-27. Research also suggests a dose response relationship3,4,6-8.

Three large data sets are of particular note:

  • A 2002 cohort study of 17,111 Dutch men and women suggested that coffee consumption was associated with a substantially lower risk of clinical type 2 diabetes2.
  • A 2009 systematic review with a meta-analysis of 457,922 individuals and 21,897 newly-diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes from eight different countries showed a statistically significant inverse association between coffee consumption and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes3.
  • A further meta-analysis published in 2018 with 1,185,210 participants and 53,018 incident type 2 diabetes cases suggested that those in the highest category of coffee consumption (an average of 5 cups per day) had a 29% lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who did not drink coffee4.

These results are supported by additional studies and reviews.

  • Epidemiological studies from different countries have also confirmed the inverse association with coffee consumption15-27.
  • Interestingly, a 10 year follow-up study from Greece, published in 2015, highlighted the significance of habitual coffee drinking in relation to diabetes onset. The authors concluded that habitual coffee drinking, at a level of at least 250 ml/day, versus abstention, was found to exhibit significant protection against diabetes development, decreasing the risk of developing diabetes by more than 50% in this study13.
  • A 2018 study of adults aged 20-70 years with low levels of coffee consumption (the majority consuming 1 cup of coffee per week) suggested that a lower risk of both pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes was observed in coffee drinkers compared to non-drinkers28.

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