The Benefits of Coffee

Researchers finally nail down why drinking coffee helps reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst was managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Researchers have known for some time that regular coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: people who drink four or more cups of coffee each day have a 50 percent lower risk of the disease, with each additional cup associated with a further 7 percent drop in risk. But the cause of this bizarre connection has been a source of speculation.

Now, researchers in China have found evidence that coffee influences the misfolding of the human islet amyloid polypeptide (hIAPP), a protein implicated in causing Type 2 diabetes. According to their paper published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, certain compounds in coffee significantly inhibited the formation of toxic hIAPP amyloids, which likely explains the lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes in coffee lovers.

“These findings suggest that the beneficial effects of coffee consumption on [Type 2 diabetes] may be...

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