Numerous studies have shown that coffee protects against type 2 diabetes. Yet no one has really understood why.
Now, researchers at UCLA have discovered a possible molecular mechanism behind coffee's protective effect.
A protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) regulates the biological activity of the body's sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. And coffee consumption, it turns out, increases plasma levels of SHBG.
First author Atsushi Goto, a UCLA doctoral student in epidemiology, and Dr. Simin Liu, a professor of epidemiology and medicine with joint appointments at the UCLA School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, show that women who drink at least four cups of coffee a day are less than half as likely to develop diabetes as non-coffee drinkers.
When the findings were adjusted for levels of SHBG, the researchers said, that protective effect disappeared.
The study appears in the current edition of the journal Diabetes.