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Moderate Drinking Appears to Cut Diabetes Risk March 18, 2005 reuters.com
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Evidence continues to mount that moderate alcohol consumption may protect against the development of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers based in the Netherlands looked at 15 different studies and concluded that moderate drinkers were less likely to have type 2 diabetes than teetotalers. Further, they report, the higher risk of type 2 diabetes among nondrinkers in comparison to moderate drinkers was equal to the higher risk observed among heavy drinkers.
"The present study supports the evidence of a considerably reduced risk of type 2 diabetes associated with moderate but not with heavy alcohol consumption in men and women with low or high (body mass index)," the researchers write in this month's issue of Diabetes Care.
In comments to Reuters Health, Koppes said there doesn't seem to be large differences in the effects of beer, wine or spirits, "but the pattern of consumption is of importance. If you do drink, do not save up for the weekend. One drink per day...is better than seven drinks on Friday."
The worldwide prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase by 37 percent between 2000 and 2030, according to one previously published report. And, in many cases, the cause of this increasingly common disease in the United States is due to the lack of exercise and the high prevalence of overweight and obesity, as well as the normal aging of the population, researchers say.
"With the expectation of (more than) 100 million new cases of type 2 diabetes in the coming two decades, and with the prevention of type 2 diabetes now being recognized as an urgent priority, attaining prevention is the central challenge," the authors of the current report contend.
Previous studies have linked alcohol consumption to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes but reviews of these studies were inconclusive about the scope of the association and the incidence of the disease associated with heavy drinking. To clarify the association, Dr. Lando L. J. Koppes, of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and his team searched the literature for studies about type 2 diabetes and alcohol consumption that were published between 1966 and July 2004.
The studies, conducted in the United States, Japan, Finland, Korea, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK, involved a total of 11,959 cases of type 2 diabetes among 369,862 men and women who were followed for 4 to 20 years, or an average 12 years.
Altogether, the compiled findings revealed a U-shaped association between alcohol drinking and type 2 diabetes risk, such that the lowest risk of the condition was found among moderate drinkers and the highest risk occurred among nondrinkers and heavy drinkers. Body mass index, a measure of height versus weight, did not seem to affect the results.
A standard drink contains about 10 grams of alcohol in Europe, 12 grams in the U.S. and Canada, and 21 grams in Japan.
Moderate drinkers -- those who drank between six and 48 grams of alcohol per day -- were about 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nondrinkers, the report indicates. The risk of the condition among those who drank 48 grams of alcohol a day or more was similar to that among those who did not drink alcohol.
Previous researchers have reported a similar association between moderate alcohol drinking and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The exact mechanism by which moderate alcohol drinking reduces the risk for either condition is unknown.