New Study Questions Caffeine's Effect on Diabetics

Getting the day started without a cup of coffee is unthinkable for many people. In fact, there's more caffeine being consumed than ever before. But in this week's Dealing with Diabetes report, a new study may have diabetics wondering -- how much is too much?

Las Vegas resident and retired Air Force colonel, Bill Palmer, started drinking coffee after joining the service. "I'd stay up at night on alert. And to stay awake, we would drink coffee. So that was in the 50's."

Palmer has since developed type-2 diabetes. And while he tries to manage the disease, he has no plans to stop drinking coffee, in spite of a small study out of England that suggests caffeine raises blood glucose levels.

"I would not stop drinking coffee just based on just that much. I may slow down," said Palmer.

Depending on which article you read, caffeine is either a wonder-drug with many benefits, or it's an addictive stimulant that does more harm than good. For the diabetic, Las Vegas endocrinologist, Fred Toffel says because caffeine effects people differently, it's important to find out first-hand how coffee affects your glucose levels.

"You could be your best person to judge what is good and not so good for you, by checking your blood sugar before you do something and about two hours after. And if there's a significant increase in your glucose, there's probably something in that event that's not good for you," said Dr. Toffel.

He says that while there's no cut-off amount, moderation is a good idea. But Dr. Toffel says, given the current state of the American diet, there are far more pressing concerns than how much coffee a diabetic patient is drinking.

"There's a lot of other factors that effect glucose control much more than this little bit of caffeine would. So I really wouldn't stop drinking coffee. But then again, I wouldn't tell you to start drinking coffee if you had diabetes," said Dr. Toffel.

Dr. Toffel says caffeine may actually encourage diabetics to get more exercise. But again, moderation is key.

For more about the latest study of caffeine and diabetes, click here.

Email your comments to Anchor Paula Francis.


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