Moderate tea consumption lowers type 2 diabetes risk – Research reveals

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A cohort study and a dose-response meta-analysis conducted by the Wuhan University of Science and Technology has revealed that there is a relationship between tea consumption and future type 2 diabetes risk.

The scientist led by Dr. Xiaying, studied 5,199 adults (2,583 men, 2,616 women, average age 42) with no history of type 2 diabetes from the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), who were recruited in 1997 and followed until 2009.

The participants were made to fill in a food and drink frequency questionnaire and provided information on lifestyle factors such as regular exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Overall, 2,379 (46%) participants reported drinking tea, and by the end of the study, 522 (10%) participants had developed type 2 diabetes.

After adjusting for factors that are known to be linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, like age, sex, and physical inactivity, researchers found that tea drinkers had a similar risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to non-drinkers.

The results did not change significantly when analyzed by age and sex, or when participants who developed diabetes during the first 3 years of follow-up were excluded.

In the next step, the researchers did a systematic review of all cohort studies investigating tea drinking and the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults (aged 18 or older) up to September 2021.

Overall, 19 cohort studies involving 1,076,311 participants from eight countries were included in the dose-response meta-analysis.

They explored the potential impact of different types of tea (green tea, oolong tea, and black tea), frequency of tea drinking (less than 1 cup/day, 1-3 cups/day, and 4 or more cups/day), sex (male and female), and the location of the study (Europe and America, or Asia), on the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Overall, the meta-analysis found a linear association between tea drinking and type 2 diabetes risk, with each cup of tea consumed per day reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around 1%.

When compared with adults who didn’t drink tea, those who drank 1-3 cups daily lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by 4%, while those who consumed at least 4 cups every day reduced their risk by 17%.

The associations were observed regardless of the type of tea participants drank, whether they were male or female, or where they lived, suggesting that it may be the amount of tea consumed, rather than any other factor that plays a major role.

According to Dr. Li, “While more research needs to be done to determine the exact dosage and mechanisms behind these observations, our findings suggest that drinking tea is beneficial in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, but only at high doses (at least 4 cups a day).”

“It is possible that particular components in tea, such as polyphenols, may reduce blood glucose levels, but a sufficient amount of these bioactive compounds may be needed to be effective.”

“It may also explain why we did not find an association between tea drinking and type 2 diabetes in our cohort study, because we did not look at higher tea consumption,” he said.

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