It’s fairly well known that coffee is helpful in type 2 diabetes and there’s plenty of articles on this on the internet. It’s not that we’ve studied this all that much and one of the reasons is that it’s hard to get studies like this funded, and in some cases the maker of the supplement has to fund them, that’s how it is though.
The makers of pharmaceuticals certainly fund studies though and not only that but it’s well known that they pay people to cook up the evidence, and they also very often suffer from poor design. For the most part they are looking to take a defensive posture, to look to minimize the negative effects of their novel substances, which range from concerning on up.
If you look at the list of side effects of any pharmaceutical you will see a pretty long list of ill effects, and although a lot of these are fairly minor, not all of them are, and this is certainly the case with diabetes medication.
Metformin for instance, the most benign of the anti diabetics, has a whole host of side effects, and perhaps you won’t die acutely from them, even though there is a very small likelihood you may die from it, there are some that are very concerning long term. We’re only looking for the acute stuff though.
Anyway, while in an ideal world, these studies would be funded and run by third parties, people with no benefit from seeing the results go one way or the other, and people who have no axes to grind, in other words have a bias. These biases are often a much bigger deal than even being funded commercially, and this is very prevalent, and can turn the thing into witch hunts.
Science is supposed to be objective, let’s see what we can learn for the sake of knowledge, but that’s more of a fairly tale than anything. People who pay for the studies or people who do the research, and especially people who do the research, desire a specific outcome and they often get it.
Even if a study is designed properly and is objective, there’s no guarantee that anyone will read it, that it will be published. Here’s another opportunity for bias, if publishers don’t like the results they just won’t publish it.
So in this particular study, one of several they did on green coffee and diabetes, they took 30 non diabetic subjects of normal weight and had a look at what green coffee may have on their blood sugar.
Now a supplement company did fund this, but that in itself isn’t damning in any way, unless the study suffers from bias. There does not seem to be any in this one.
Now this isn’t the group we’d want to study here, other than if you see an improvement in these people from this extract, then we would expect that we’d see an even bigger one with people who could actually use the help here.
So it did improve blood sugar control, not by a lot but there are limitations of natural substances which are within the normal range, they don’t drive you hypo for instance nor would anyone want that. So if people are a bit too high then this may help them a bit, but a bit only, as that’s all that is possible.
I posted a link from the web.md site that discusses it because it’s just downright hilarious. So they present the good stuff and then from the alternative camp they post some remarks from Dr. John Anderson from the American Diabetes Association, who discounts all of this because he feels that you have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars at least for any study to be conclusive in any way.
This post by the way isn’t really so much about green coffee, or chlorogenic acid, the component of it that’s believed to exert the primary blood glucose lowering effects, as it is about the reasoning of some of these fools, and I can’t think of a better example right now than this one.
Proof is always a matter of degree, of probability, and when we speak of something believed to be preventative of something, what we’re really after is showing that there is a reason to believe this is the case of a various strength.
It turns out all preventative suggestions are like this, to certain degrees, we can say that if you want to prevent something and you do this, you are less likely to get it than if you don’t do it, and that’s evidence.
There is no proof here, it is absurd to speak of proof when it comes to inductive reasoning, to probabilities, because these things are impossible to prove even spending hundreds of billions of dollars.
Whenever you do an experiment, you use probability to determine the strength of the conclusion, which is called the p value, and deals with the likelihood of the results being a coincidence or having a relationship with the conclusion, contributing to its strength of probability.
So we’re speaking of influencers here, and there’s really never just one, it’s always in a combination. For example, we might want to say that eating refined sugar in excess influences the onset of diabetes, and we can look at groups of people and see that it happens more often, and even look at large groups. So they looked at coffee, not green coffee but the roasted kind, and looked at almost half a million subjects, and reached the conclusion that each cup of coffee you drink a day reduces your risk by 7% of getting diabetes. This number didn’t just come from the air, it came from using math.
This doesn’t prove that drinking coffee prevents diabetes, and it surely doesn’t, and it’s only when A then B is certain that we can claim a proof anyway. You do need larger groups of subjects to show long term outcomes like this, influencers in other words, but you certainly don’t need to spend hundreds of millions on these.
The studies we tend to see though, like this one, only looks to show acute effects, and in that case, a group of 30 subjects can be plenty to get a real good p value, a high probability of the outcome not being random.
Medical doctors though aren’t trained in understanding scientific or statistical models, they are trained in ignoring things their puppet masters aren’t fond of though. I’ve no idea why anyone would ask a medical doctor for their opinion on this anyway, unless you’re Web MD I guess, with their extreme bias towards MD’s over actual science. MD’s all went up to the mountain and got instructed by God on all matters related to health, including experimental methodology presumably, and this trumps any lack of formal education or any education they may have gotten.
Here’s the kicker though. It is bad enough that Dr. Anderson is taking a study which is only looking to measure the immediate effects of green coffee on blood sugar to see its value with this, and trying to paint it as claiming that this can prevent diabetes, which is way stronger than the experimenters would dream of. This is what we call a straw man argument by the way, changing it and then attacking the straw man you created, not the actual argument.
He goes on though and says that we need to prove that green coffee prevents diabetes before this can ever be used with diabetes. He doesn’t explain why we should accept this ridiculous assertion, and perhaps is hoping that his MD degree trumps all reason. That’s not the case for all of us though.
If there were no evidence whatsoever that something may help diabetes, one may still want to try it, provided that there are no good reasons not to do it. So for instance it’s a bad idea to drink turpentine to see if that will lower your blood sugar, and who knows, maybe it would, but becoming poisoned by it would not be a good trade off.
So when we decide such things, we need to weigh both sides. Is there any reason not to try green coffee extract if you have high blood sugar? Well maybe you can’t afford it, or aren’t willing to spend the money, so that would be a consideration. On the other side, we can look at the positive evidence we have, and provided one has the means and the desire to try this, one may very reasonably do so, and to withhold potential benefits because we buy the extremely dim reasoning of Dr. Anderson would be a real shame.
The ADA should be hanging their heads to have someone like this on their staff, although this would require half a brain, and anyone with one would easily be able to see through the charade they parade off as sound medical advice about diabetes.