Caffeine’s Benefits in Women With Diabetes

As we’ve discussed in the past here at Diabetes Flashpoints, drinking coffee and tea has long been shown to have diabetes-related benefits — including both helping to prevent the condition and improving blood glucose control in people with diabetes. It’s sometimes unclear, though, exactly who benefits the most from drinking coffee and tea, and how much any benefit is due to caffeine or other substances found in these beverages.

A recent study has stumbled on a surprising result: only women with diabetes seem to live longer as a result of caffeine consumption. Presented last month at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, the study looked at over 3,000 men and women with diabetes who took part in the U.S. National Health Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2010. As part of the study, caffeine intake from coffee, tea, and soft drinks was recorded through structured interviews.

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As noted in an article on the study at Medical News Today, 618 participants died over the 11-year follow-up period. When comparing caffeine intake with participants’ risk of dying, the researchers found that there was no pattern among men. But among women, consuming up to 100 milligrams of caffeine daily reduced the overall risk of dying by 51%. Consuming more than 200 milligrams daily had an even greater effect, reducing the death risk by 66%.

This lower death risk, though, was based on different benefits depending on whether the women drank coffee or tea. Tea had the greatest effect on cancer-related mortality, with women who consumed the most caffeine from tea 80% less likely to die of cancer than those who got no caffeine from tea. Coffee, on the other hand, appeared to be related to overall and cardiovascular-disease death risks. Since coffee consumption was so much higher than tea consumption, it’s difficult to know how much of this beneficial effect was due to coffee specifically, or simply due to caffeine.

Either way, it’s clear that consuming caffeine seems to have a particular effect in women with diabetes, for reasons that remain unclear. The researchers speculated that both caffeine and other beneficial substances in coffee and tea contributed to this benefit, but noted that larger studies would be needed to fully understand how different chemical compounds in these beverages affect different people.

What’s your take on this study — are you encouraged or disappointed by its findings? Do you consciously drink coffee or tea for its health benefits, or simply because you like it? Would you be open to drinking more of one beverage or the other if studies showed that it reduced your risk of death or disease? Have you noticed any impact from caffeine on your blood glucose control? Leave a comment below!

Want to learn more about coffee and diabetes? Read “Coffee, Tea, and Diabetes Risk,” “Coffee and Diabetes,” and “Is Coffee Good for Diabetes?”