Drinking red wine regularly reduces risk of diabetes

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Now, new research from Denmark suggests that moderate levels of alcohol drinking - not binge drinking - may be linked to a lower risk of developing diabetes.

A study has found men who drink three to four times a week slash their risk of type 2 diabetes by 27 per cent, compared to those who drink on less than one day.

They said wine had the most substantial effect-probably because it contains chemical compounds that improve blood sugar balance. On the contrary, gin and similar spirits could cause the opposite effect, as consuming them increases women's risk of developing diabetes by 83 percent.

The team analyzed data from the Danish Health Examination Survey (DAHNES) from 2007-2008, looking at 70,551 DAHNES participants who had provided details of their alcohol consumption and followed the subjects for a median of 4.9 years.

Experts have found with alcohol consumption over 3 to 4 week days giving the lowest risks of diabetes. The lowest risk of diabetes was observed at 14 drinks/week in men (HR 0.57 [95% CI 0.47, 0.70]) and at 9 drinks/week in women (HR 0.42 [95% CI 0.35, 0.51]), relative to no alcohol intake.

Image credit: NPR " In principle, we can only say something about the five-year risk from this study", Tolstrup told CNN via email.

Asked why alcohol consumption led to decreased risk of developing diabetes, Tolstrup said the science was unresolved.

Although focused on the subject of diabetes, the study did not distinguish between the two forms, Type 1 and the more common Type 2, in the study. Men who drank 14 drinks a week had a 43% lower risk of diabetes than men who did not drink at all; women who drank nine drinks a week had a 58% reduced risk.

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

For both genders, seven glasses of wine a week lowered the risk of diabetes by 25% to 30% compared with having less than one glass. Their results showed that hard liquor provided no benefit to men, while women could actually increase their risk of diabetes if they drank those liquors.

The possible health benefits of drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, according to the US' Mayo Clinic, include reducing your risk of heart disease, ischemic stroke and diabetes.

"While these findings are interesting, we wouldn't recommend people see them as a green light to drink in excess of the existing NHS guidelines".

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.

Since few participants reported binging, the researchers say their finding of no clear link between binge drinking and diabetes risk may be due to low statistical power.

"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.

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