New research finds drinking coffee may lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

The study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that people who drank coffee were about 50 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to people who did not drink coffee. Scientists believe that the reason for a reduction in the risk for type 2 diabetes could be the effect coffee has on the reducing the amount of inflammation in the body.

There have been prior studies that have shown a link between coffee consumption and diabetes. This study is unique in that it may help confirm a cause-and-effect hypothesis regarding coffee consumption and diabetes. The study was also different in that the researchers did not randomly assign any of the study participants to drink coffee or not drink coffee, but rather observed them in their coffee drinking habits. This limits any confirmation that coffee consumption prevents diabetes.

The study was initially carried out in 2001 and 2002. The researchers recruited a random sample of more than 1,300 men and women ages 18 years and older from Athens. They were given questionnaires to complete regarding their diet which included questions about how often they drank coffee. Among the participants, there were 816 casual drinkers, 385 habitual drinkers and 239 non-coffee drinkers. Casual drinkers were defined as drinking less than 1.5 cups of coffee a day, while habitual drinkers were defined as drinking more than 1.5 cups a day.

The levels of protein markers of inflammation were also analyzed by taking blood tests from study participants. The blood tests measured levels of antioxidants in the body, which can determine the body’s ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals.

The researchers followed up with the study participants ten years later. After ten years, there were 191 people among the original 1,300 people (13 percent of the men and 12 percent of the women) who had developed diabetes. Those who reported drinking more coffee were less likely to develop diabetes.

Among the coffee drinkers who were considered habitual coffee drinkers, 54 percent of them were less likely to develop diabetes compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. This was true even after researchers took into account lifestyle habits or medical history, such as family history of diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, or drinking other caffeinated beverages.

The researchers noted that the levels of serum amyloid may explain the link between coffee and diabetes. Serum amyloid is an inflammatory marker found in the blood, and what they found was that drinking more coffee was associated with lower levels of serum amyloid.

The researchers concluded that they cannot confirm whether drinking more coffee actually prevents diabetes, but they are one step closer to proving a cause-and-effect relationship. For now, physical exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight is the most effective way to reduce your risk for diabetes.