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Caffeine may make diabetes worse

Caffeine may interfere with the way the body deals with blood sugars, worsening Type 2 diabetes, US scientists suggest. Researchers FROM Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina found a strong link between caffeine intake at mealtimes and higher blood glucose and insulin levels. Writing in the August issue of "Diabetes Care", they suggest that people with diabetes should cut down on the amount of coffee they drink.

In Type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin, the hormone which the body needs to convert food INTO energy, or is unable to make proper use of it. Without enough insulin, the body cannot move blood sugar INTO the cells. Sugar or its derivatives then build up in the bloodstream and cause health problems.

Other research INTO the effects produced by coffee, or the caffeine it contains, has shown varying results. Some studies have suggested that caffeine may reduce the body's sensitivity to insulin. However other studies have found that extra components in coffee, such as magnesium and chlorogenic acid, could even help to prevent people developing Type 2 diabetes.

The US researchers studied 14 habitual coffee drinkers with type 2 diabetes. Study participants were put on a controlled diet. They took their medications, had their blood tested and then were given caffeine capsules. They then had another blood test before being given a liquid meal supplement and finally undergoing a third blood test.

It was found that caffeine by itself had little effect on glucose and insulin levels when the volunteers fasted. But after the liquid meal, those who were given caffeine had a 21% increase in their glucose level and their insulin levels rose 48%.

James Lane, the professor at Duke University who led the study, said: "In a healthy person, glucose is metabolised within an hour or so after eating. Diabetics, however, do not metabolise glucose as efficiently. It appears that diabetics who consume caffeine are HAVING a harder time regulating their insulin and glucose levels than those who don't take caffeine."

He explained that the goal of clinical treatment for diabetes is to keep the person's blood glucose down. It seems that caffeine, by further impairing the metabolism of food digestion, is something diabetics ought to consider avoiding. Some people already watch their diet and exercise regularly; avoiding caffeine might be another way to better manage their disease. "In fact, it's possible that staying away FROM caffeine could provide bigger benefits altogether," he concluded.

However Debbie Hammond, a care advisor at a British diabetes organization, was cautious about the study's findings. She said: "Although interesting, this is a very small study. Much more research is needed to clarify the significance of these findings."

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