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Coffee break for gals: Java may cut diabetes risk

Posted - Nov. 10, 2004 at 3:20 p.m.



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The medical research is conclusive: coffee may be good or bad for your health.

The latest salvo in the cross fire of contradictory coffee studies comes from the Harvard School of Public Health, where researchers reported yesterday coffee drinkers may be less at risk from diabetes and, perhaps, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Other studies have found java could be a factor in causing diabetes and other diseases.

Before we get all carried away with all these associations and start frightening everyone, we need to keep in mind that these are only associations,'' said Dr. David Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.The results are far from being convincing to me at least.''

The Harvard researchers, using Nurses Health Study data and blood samples on more than 2,000 women, found an inverse association between coffee drinking and levels of a key insulin component. The more joe women reported drinking, the lower the level of C-peptide in their blood.

High levels of C-peptide indicate the body doesn't use insulin efficiently, a major factor in diabetes.

Women who reported downing more than four cups of java a day had C-peptide levels 13 percent lower than women who said they never drank coffee. Women who drank at least four cups of decaf had levels 14 percent lower, according to the research presented yesterday at the American Heart Association conference in New Orleans.

The apparent link, which suggests coffee cuts insulin secretion, was strongest among obese and overweight women.

Word of the latest coffee study didn't exactly have the customers at Francesca's Cafe in the South End lining up for a second cup or dumping their lattes.

There's so much research. It's mind-boggling what they're coming up with,'' shrugged Betty Keane as she sipped a decaf espresso yesterday.If I enjoy it, you know, I drink it.''

( Robert Dietz contributed to this report. )

©2004 Boston Herald. All rights reserved.

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