Adding Alcohol Reduces Diabetes Risk

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The age old question of alcohol consumption, diabetes, risk factors, insulin resistance and complications.  I personally enjoy a beer – once every couple of months – but don’t make alcohol part of my normal routine.  However, researchers have completed a massive study involving 38,000 men over a four years period and found that those increased their alcohol consumption had a lower incidence of Diabetes:

RESULTS A total of 1,905 cases of type 2 diabetes occurred during 428,497 person-years of follow-up. A 7.5 g/day (approximately half a glass) increase in alcohol consumption over 4 years was associated with lower diabetes risk among initial nondrinkers (multivariable hazard ratio [HR] 0.78; 95% CI: 0.60–1.00) and drinkers initially consuming <15 g/day (HR 0.89; 95% CI: 0.83–0.96), but not among men initially drinking ≥15 g/day (HR 0.99; 95% CI: 0.95–1.02; Pinteraction < 0.01). A similar pattern was observed for levels of total adiponectin and hemoglobin A1c, with a better metabolic profile among abstainers and light drinkers who modestly increased their alcohol intake, compared with men who either drank less or among men who were already moderate drinkers and increased their intake. Likewise, compared with stable light drinkers (0–4.9 g/day), light drinkers who increased their intake to moderate levels (5.0–29.9 g/day) had a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes (HR 0.75; 95% CI: 0.62–0.90).

CONCLUSIONS Increases in alcohol consumption over time were associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes among initially rare and light drinkers. This lower risk was evident within a 4-year period following increased alcohol intake.

The results does seem consistent with what we’ve seen in the past with the exception that an increase rather than absolute consumption was studied. I don’t know that this should motivate a change in dietary habits for those who are undiagnosed or have pre-diabetes but it certainly will be used by some to justify their chosen lifestyle.



  1. Craig Aldridge says:

    Alcohol makes it very hard for your body to overcome low blood sugar levels. It moves into your bloodstream at an amazing rate, usually without metabolizing in your stomach. That is why it is possible to fail a blood alcohol test within a few minutes of consuming an alcoholic beverage.

    It takes the average person at least two hours to metabolize one alcoholic drink. This process occurs in the liver. In a healthy person, the liver has no problem doing its job, but when you have diabetes, your liver already works overtime changing your stored carbohydrates into glucose so your blood sugar can stay balanced.

    When a person with diabetes consumes alcohol, they put themselves at risk of developing low blood sugar. As the liver works to clear alcohol from the blood stream, it focuses all of its attention on the task. That means it isn’t available to provide your body with the glucose that it needs, causing you to have a low blood sugar reaction. Drinking as little as 2 ounces of alcohol can lead to low blood sugar in a person with diabetes.

    Even taking a shot of Glucagon won’t help you overcome low blood sugar if you have been drinking. Alcohol actually renders Glucagon ineffective, so never drink to the point that you need this shot.

    metformin and alcohol

  2. Daniel McRuchie says:

    A website that I just found has a great post about this subject. You should consider checking it out. It’s called DrugMD.