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Coffee Creams Diabetes, Study Says

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Jan. 6--Six cups o' joe a day may help keep the diabetes away.

A huge new study shows that heavy coffee-drinking can significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes, Harvard researchers revealed yesterday.

Men who drank six cups of java or more a day were half as likely to get the disease as nondrinkers, of coffee, the study found. Women had 30 percent less risk.

Three or four cups a day had a lesser benefit, cutting the risk of diabetes by about 20 percent.

"The more coffee people drink, the more benefit they will get," said lead author Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Published yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the study examined the self-reported health and diet records of 126,210 medical professionals for 12 to 18 years. The survey corroborates a smaller study reported last year by Dutch scientists, making researchers confident in the results.

Decaf provided more modest benefits, while tea had no impact on diabetes risk, the study found.

Researchers are not sure why coffee appears to ward off diabetes, but speculate its antioxidants and magnesium may help lower blood-sugar levels.

The study only looked at type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, which affects about 17 million Americans. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when a person's blood ignores the enzyme.

The body needs insulin to break down sugar into energy.

About 80 percent of those with type 2 diabetes are overweight, and experts said an active lifestyle remains the best bet to beat the disease.

"I would definitely promote a healthy weight and physical activity before drinking coffee," said Cathy Nonas, director of diabetes programs at North General Hospital in Harlem. "This [drinking coffee] certainly isn't the answer."


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(c) 2004, Daily News, New York. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


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