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10/05/2009 - Articles

Diabetes risk cut by tea drinking

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


Diabetes is a growing health problem around the world. For instance, in the UK there are over 2.3 million people who have diabetes according to the charity Diabetes UK.  New research from The Netherlands now suggests that a simple dietary intervention lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.  Drinking tea regularly, it seems, is a powerful preventative against diabetes.

In the study, more than 40,000 people were followed up for a period of ten years and cases of type 2 diabetes recorded. The participants also filled in a food frequency questionnaire which logged their tea and coffee consumption. Those drinking at least three cups of black tea a day had a 42% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  In fact, the study didn’t distinguish between green tea and black tea. The former is often praised for its health-giving properties, but the latter is the type of tea most often drunk in The Netherlands. 

The link between reduced type 2 diabetes risk and tea consumption remained even when other factors like caffeine intake, body mass index, potassium and magnesium intake were accounted for.  Therefore, some component of tea other than caffeine, potassium and magnesium must account for preventing diabetes.  The researchers believe it may be the antioxidant action of the flavonoid compounds found in tea which confer the benefits.

The Netherlands study adds to the body of evidence that tea drinking can prevent diabetes.  Another recent study, carried out in Singapore and involving Chinese adults, showed that  those drinking one or more cups of black tea a day were 14% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.  So, carry on drinking tea – but there’s no need to overdo it! The Netherlands study showed no extra benefit in diabetes prevention from drinking more than three cups a day.



Van Dieren S, Uiterwaal C et al Coffee and tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes Diabetologia September 2009; DOI 10.1007/s00125-009-1516-3    

Created on: 10/05/2009
Reviewed on: 10/05/2009

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