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Study: Coffee Might Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk Due to Genetic Variant

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New research suggests exploring black coffee or caffeinated drinks as a means to lower the risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.

This suggestion follows the work of a team of researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, the University of Bristol (UK) and Imperial College, London (UK). The study was published this month in the open-access journal BMJ Medicine.

The study found that high blood caffeine levels may curb the amount of body fat a person carries, as well as their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study follows a wealth of recent research suggesting coffee consumption may indeed reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, reduce the risk of heart disease and fend off death from all causes.

“Previously published research indicates that drinking 3-5 daily cups of coffee, a rich source of caffeine, is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” the research team said in an announcement of the study. “But most of the published research to date has concerned observational studies, which can’t reliably establish causal effects, because of the other potentially influential factors involved.”


In this new study, the researchers employed a Mendelian randomization, which uses genetic variants as proxies to determine risk factors. They focused on genetic variants associated with how quickly humans metabolize caffeine — specifically variants known as CYP1A2 and AHR.

“People who carry genetic variants associated with slower caffeine metabolism drink, on average, less coffee, yet have higher levels of caffeine in their blood than people who metabolize it quickly to reach or retain the levels required for its stimulant effects,” the research team said in the release. “The results of the analysis showed that higher genetically predicted blood caffeine levels were associated with lower weight (BMI) and body fat.”

Applying the Mendelian randomization one step further, the researchers found that higher genetically predicted blood caffeine levels were also associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Susanna Larsson an associate professor in the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute, was the study’s lead author.

Read the full study here.

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