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Issue 112 Item 12 Alcohol Unlikely to Cut Diabetes Risk

Apr 26, 2002

A new study has found that alcohol does not appear to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. >Although several recent studies have suggested that light to moderate drinking might protect against diabetes,

In the current investigation, lead author Dr. Goya Wannamethee of Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK and colleagues studied 5,221 healthy British men between the ages of 40 and 59 years. After 17 years of follow-up, 198 of the men developed type 2 diabetes.

In the study, moderate alcohol consumption was defined as consuming 16 to 42 drinks per week. The investigators report that the heaviest drinkers–more than 42 drinks per week–had the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which they attributed to the additional calories consumed and resulting overweight from drinking so much alcohol.

Co-author Dr. Gerry Shaper said that “these drinkers consumed more than 42 units of alcohol per week, drinking 6 or more units a day most days in the week.

Moderate drinkers appeared to carry the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers report in the June issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Shaper stated that "there appears to be no justification for encouraging light or occasional drinkers to increase their intake or for nondrinkers to take up drinking." "There is no sound rationale for alcohol preventing the development of diabetes," Shaper added. "Indeed, alcohol lowers levels of blood insulin."

Moderate alcohol consumption as defined in the present study may be considered fairly heavy alcohol consumption by American standards, Shaper pointed out.

"Regular moderate drinking is certainly likely to be associated with more untoward effects than overall benefits, and is certainly not a desirable public health recommendation," Shaper concluded. SOURCE: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2002;56:542-548.