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More Coffee, Less Type 2 Diabetes – Mystery Solved?

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Multiple studies show heavy coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, a disease on the increase around the world that can lead to serious health problems. But why is this so?

A collaborative of Chinese scientists led by Drs. Ling Zheng and Kun Huang is offering a new solution to that long-standing mystery, in a report published Dec 28, 2011 by the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.(1)

Their report lays out the data from previous studies showing that coffee drinkers are at a lower risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90% to 95% of diabetes cases in the world.

Specifically, those studies have shown that:

• People who drink four or more cups of coffee daily have a 50% lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.

• And every additional cup of coffee brings another decrease in risk of almost 7%.

The Chinese team also explains previous research implicating the misfolding of a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP) in causing Type 2 diabetes.

Noting that diabetes researchers are seeking ways to block the hIAPP misfolding process, they decided to see if coffee’s beneficial effects might be due to substances that block hIAPP.

And they have identified two categories of compounds in coffee that significantly inhibit hIAPP.

In fact all three major active components of coffee that they studied (caffeine, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid) exerted some ability to protect cells by inhibiting the toxic aggregation of hIAP. But caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid and their metabolites were most potent in that respect.

They suggest that this effect explains why coffee drinkers show a lower risk for developing diabetes, concluding that “A beneficial effect may thus be expected for a regular coffee drinker.”

The authors acknowledge funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the National Basic Research Program of China, and the Chinese Ministry of Education.


1. “Coffee Components Inhibit Amyloid Formation of Human Islet Amyloid Polypeptide in Vitro: Possible Link Between Coffee Consumption and Diabetes Mellitus.”

Source: Based on cited abstract and American Chemical Society news release, Jan 11, 2012. The American Chemical Society, publisher of the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. It is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research.

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