Drinking red wine regularly reduces risk of diabetes

Francis Osborne
July 29, 2017

That's why units are more important to pay attention to than glasses-after all, one "glass" of wine could have up to three units of alcohol in it.

Tolstrup noted the potential protective effect of alcohol seemed to be limited to beer and wine.

"Our findings should be interpreted in the context of the existing literature", Charlotte Holst, a PhD student with the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues wrote. Although the mechanism is still hazy, researchers suggest higher concentrations of tannins have an inhibiting effect on the action of carbohydrate-reducing enzymes.

"Alcohol has been suggested to increase insulin sensitivity and lower fasting insulin resistance, which might play an important role in the progression of diabetes", Tolstrup said.

In the study, men and women who consumed seven or more drinks of wine per week had a 25 to 30 percent lower risk of diabetes compared to those who had less than one drink of wine per week.

In terms of frequency, the data revealed that consumption of alcohol three to four days a week gave the lowest risk of diabetes - a 27 per cent lower risk in men and a 32 per cent lower risk in women - when compared to individuals drinking less than one day per week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excess alcohol consumption contributes to almost 90,000 deaths annually in the U.S. Binge drinking is associated with liver, kidney and cardiovascular diseases.

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"The Association does not recommend that people with or at risk for diabetes consume alcohol if they don't already, but if they do, moderate consumption is recognized as generally safe and potentially of some benefit", said Cefalu.

Health experts surveyed and said the caution over the findings.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 23.1 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, though an additional 7.2 million people are suspected of having the disease. Moderate drinking as defined by Dietary Guidelines for Americans is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.

There shouldn't be much emphasis placed on the results for spirits, Tolstrup said, "because few people were drinking a lot of spirits, most were drinking wine and beer". These people were followed through 2012, with an average follow-up of about five years. A daily tipple of "mothers' ruin" or other spirits increased the diabetes risk to women by 83%.

Men who had 14 drinks a week, or just over nine pints of beer, were found to have a 43 per cent lower risk.

"Binge drinkers can also develop unpleasant short-term effects, such as sweating, shaking, bad skin, diarrhoea, blackouts and problems sleeping". Men who took one to six beers a week had a 21% lower risk of diabetes compared to men who drank less than one beer a week.

Tamler also points out that the study focused on people developing a new diagnosis of diabetes. Here, the benefits of alcohol were seen regardless of whether someone was overweight or not. As type 2 diabetes is much more common, the clear majority of diabetes diagnoses recorded will have been for type 2 diabetes.

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