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Women who participated in the nurses' health studies I and II and did not have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer at baseline were followed up for 12-18 yearsyears.. During this time, 6486 of the 161737 women were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. These women self reported eating less whole grains than women who did not get diabetes, but they also reported taking less physical activity, having a higher body mass index, smoking more often, drinking more alcohol and soft drinks, and eating more processed meats.
After extensive adjustment for these and other confounders, eating whole grains remained protective against type 2 diabetes. Associations for consumption of bran were similar to those for total consumption of whole grains, but after adjusting for bran no significant association was seen for consumption of germ.
The authors searched Medline and Embase databases for prospective cohort studies that looked at the association between whole grains and risk for incident diabetes. The resulting systematic review included four additional studies and had a total of 286125 participants and 10944 people with type 2 diabetes. It confirmed that the more whole grains people ate, the lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The meta-analysis showed that increasing consumption of whole grains by two servings a day was associated with a 21% (95% CI 13% to 28%) decrease in the adjusted risk of developing type 2 diabetes.