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The beneficial buzz

Even science can change.

Scientists have recently changed Pluto’s status as a planet, and new research may suggest something almost equally shocking – coffee may actually be good for you.

Rob Van Dam, a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said coffee could reduce the risks of diabetes and liver cancer.

He said coffee’s beneficial properties were discovered through a research program called Nurses Health Study II, which began in 1989 and studied ways to prevent major health problems in women.

He said new research about coffee just began in the past few years. There aren’t many studies now that are saying coffee is a bad thing.

Researchers tested 88,000 women without diabetes and discovered coffee reduced their risk of getting type 2 diabetes, the most common form, according to the American Diabetes Association.

His research showed that consumption of four 8-ounce cups of coffee a day – even with sugar or cream – reduced risk of diabetes by 30 percent. Dam said other researchers have branded coffee as a good thing, too. After his findings were published in 2002, 20 other worldwide research teams made similar discoveries.

“It’s always great to discover something that works for many people around the world – not just a certain ethnicity,” he said. Good vitamins and minerals found in the coffee plant can also be beneficial for the prevention of diabetes, Pam said.

He said they have found that the antioxidants in coffee are what may reduce the effects of type 2 diabetes.

Antioxidants slow down the interaction of glucose in the intestines, protect the pancreas and muscle tissues and regulate glucose intake.

It’s not just caffeinated coffee, either, Dam said. Decaffeinated coffee has the same effects. This confirms research that coffee, even without caffeine, is beneficial.

Overall, he said, coffee is a safe beverage, and those countless trips to Starbucks can have a positive effect on health.

Dam also pointed out coffee’s low calorie levels – without extra sugar and cream added to it.

“If you enjoy coffee and don’t have diabetes or heart disease, continue to drink it,” he said.

Dam’s findings showed little evidence that coffee causes heart disease.

Tests run on 150,000 men and women over the course of 10 years showed coffee had no beneficial or detrimental effects on the heart.

He said coffee won’t help people who already have diabetes, and he advises those with cardiovascular disease not to drink coffee.

“I wouldn’t recommend people to start drinking coffee,” he said. “But if you enjoy drinking it, you shouldn’t be scared about health effects.”