Study: Drinking alcohol reduces risk of diabetes

A new study suggests that moderate wine consumption could reduce the risk of diabetes.

Tags: Alcohol
Arutz Sheva staff ,

Wine (illustrative)
Wine (illustrative)

Regular consumption of a moderate amount of certain alcoholic drinks could reduce a person’s chances of developing diabetes, according to a new study by Danish researchers.

Consuming alcohol three or four days a week was associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes – a 27% reduction in men and a 32% reduction in women – compared with abstaining, scientists found.

Wine was considered particularly beneficial, probably because it has chemical compounds that improve blood sugar balance, researchers in Denmark found.

However gin could have the opposite effect, along with other spirits, increasing women’s chances of getting diabetes by 83%.

Danish researchers wanted to determine in the study how much alcohol consumption was associated with the lowest diabetes risk, and whether the type of alcohol or the frequency that people drank mattered.

Using data from the Danish Health Examination Survey, they looked at the drinking habits of 28,704 men and 41,847 women, and tracked whether those people developed diabetes within approximately five years. The researchers excluded anyone who already had diabetes, was pregnant at the start of the study, and didn't provide information on their alcohol consumption.

The authors, led by Professor Janne Tolstrup from the University of Southern Denmark, wrote in the journal Diabetologia: “Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with the risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3 to 4 weekdays is associated with the lowest risks of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account.”

However even heavy drinkers (up to 40 drinks per week for men and 28 drinks per week for women), still had a lower risk of developing diabetes than teetotalers.

In response to the study, Statistician Graham Wheeler, from University College London (UCL), said that the study had found an association between moderate weekly alcohol consumption and a reduced risk of diabetes, but that "this alone does not prove a causal link".

“Establishing a biological mechanism for how this protective effect might work is key to understanding the findings of these types of study,“ he said.

“In the Danish study, participants were asked to recall drinking habits only once. So participants may under- or over-report their true alcohol consumption. We also don’t know how their drinking habits changed as they were followed up.

“Researchers looked at the association between diabetes onset and lots of different categories of drinking behaviour, which increases the chance of claiming at least one association is statistically significant, when actually it isn’t.

“Whilst drinkers may want to raise a glass upon hearing this news, alcohol has been linked to the increased risk of alcoholic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and several cancers. Further research will help us piece together the complex relationship between alcohol consumption and diabetes.”