Drinking at least four cups of tea each day may reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to a new analysis presented at the 2022 meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and described in an article at Healio.
Previous studies have linked drinking tea to several health benefits, some of which may be especially relevant to people with diabetes. Recently, drinking black tea was linked to a lower overall risk of death in a large study of UK residents. Drinking either tea or coffee regularly has been linked to a lower risk for dementia — with the potential to help offset the higher risk for dementia linked to having diabetes.
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For the latest analysis, researchers first looked at tea drinking habits in 5,199 adults who took part in the China Health and Nutrition Survey in 1997 and completed a follow-up survey in 2009. The researchers recorded participants’ tea drinking habits in 1997, as well as any changes to these habits in 2009. New cases of type 2 diabetes between 1997 and 2009 were recorded, based on diagnostic criteria established by the American Diabetes Association.
Overall, about 46% of participants reported drinking tea regularly. During the follow-up period, 10% of participants developed type 2 diabetes, and the researchers found no overall pattern between drinking tea — compared with not drinking tea — and diabetes risk.
Heavy tea consumption linked to reduced type 2 diabetes risk
The researchers also performed a combined analysis of 19 previously published studies on tea drinking and diabetes risk, which included a combined total of over 1 million participants. In this analysis, they found that heavy tea drinkers — those who consumed at least four cups of tea daily — were 17% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. No such reduced risk was seen in participants who drank less than one cup of tea daily, on average, or in those who drank one to three cups daily. No significant differences in any of these results were seen when the researchers analyzed groups of participants separately based on their sex, location, or preferred type of tea.
The researchers noted that their initial analysis of 5,199 Chinese adults didn’t look at heavy tea consumption separately, which may explain why it didn’t find any link to a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. These different results, they said, highlight the importance of looking at different levels of consumption in any dietary study, since it’s likely that health benefits or risks will depend on how much of any food item participants consume. In this case, it appears that drinking tea liberally throughout the day may be an effective way to reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.