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Moderate Alcohol Consumption Associated With Lower Risk of Developing Diabetes

Previous studies have found an inverse link between alcohol consumption and diabetes, but little research had looked the association between drinking patterns and diabetes risk. Now a recent study suggests that drinking alcohol three to four times during the week may lower the risk of developing diabetes.


Participants in the study included 70,551 people who took part in the Danish Health Examination Survey, which took place from 2007 to 2008. People who had previous diagnoses of diabetes and women who were pregnant or had recently given birth were excluded from the study. All of the participants gave detailed information regarding alcohol consumption and there was a median follow-up period of 4.9 years.


The participants were separated into six groups:




    1. Lifetime abstainers from alcohol.

    1. Current abstainers from alcohol.

    1. People who drank less than one day per week.

    1. People who drank one to two days per week.

    1. People who drank three to four days per week.

    1. People who drank five to seven days per week.


The researchers classified consumption of specific beverage types as less than one drink per week, one to six drinks per week, seven or more drinks per week for women, and seven to 13 drinks and 14 or more drinks per week for men. They also tracked whether people never binge drank (categorized as five or more drinks in one occasion), binge drank less than one day per week, or binge drank once or more per week. Finally, participants were asked if their alcohol consumption had increased, decreased, or remained stable over the past five years.


During the follow-up period, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes. After examining the data and adjusting for age, sex, level of education, body mass index, smoking status, diet, leisure time activity, current or previous hypertension, and family history of diabetes, the researchers found that people drinking moderate amounts of alcohol had the lowest risk of developing diabetes. Men who drank 14 drinks per week had a 43% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who didn’t drink at all, while women who drank nine drinks per week had a 58% lower risk. They also found that men who drank alcohol three to four days per week had a 37% lower risk and women had a 32% lower risk than those who abstained.


When the researchers examined different types of alcohol, they found that drinking seven or more glasses of wine was associated with a 25% to 30% lower risk of developing diabetes than drinking less than one glass of wine. They also found that drinking between one and six beers was associated with a 21% lower risk in men, compared with drinking less than one beer weekly. And while drinking spirits was not associated with any change in diabetes risk in men, drinking seven or more drinks of spirits was associated with an 83% increased risk of diabetes in women, when compared with drinking less than one drink of spirits weekly.


Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark led the study. It was published online ahed of print on July 27, 2017, in Diabetologia.


Previous studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease and extending life expectancy. These benefits are particularly apparent with wine consumption because wine is high in a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory called resveratrol.


It is important not to get carried away, however, because the negative effects of heavy drinking quickly overcome the potential benefits associated with 1-2 drinks a night.

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