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02-04-2012 | Urology | Article

Alcohol may reduce diabetes risk in women but not men


Free abstract

MedWire News: People who consume large amounts of spirits and beer may be at an increased risk for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes, report Swedish researchers.

However, among women, this risk is reduced with a low-to-medium intake of alcohol, they say.

Claes Ostenson (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm) and team examined baseline and 8-to-10 year follow-up data on glucose tolerance and lifestyle factors that were available for individuals who participated in the Stockholm Diabetes Prevention Program.

Data on participants who had normal glucose tolerance ([NGT] 2070 men and 3058 women) or prediabetes (70 men and 41 women) at baseline were analyzed to estimate risk for the development of prediabetes or progression to Type 2 diabetes in relation to self-reported alcohol intake at baseline.

As reported in Diabetic Medicine, among those with NGT at baseline, men in the high alcohol consumption group (≥22.14 g/day) had a significantly increased risk for developing either prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes compared with occasional drinkers (0.01-6.79 g/day) at an odds ratio (OR) of 1.42. However, NGT women who consumed low amounts of alcohol (1.50-4.71 g/day) were at a decreased risk for developing either condition, at an odds ratio of 0.44, though this association was not significant after adjustment for confounders.

Analysis of the participants with either NGT or prediabetes as a whole revealed no significant associations between level of alcohol consumption and the development of Type 2 diabetes in men. However, women with a low alcohol consumption had a decreased risk for Type 2 diabetes, at an adjusted OR of 0.41.

Beverage-specific analysis revealed that, compared with occasional drinkers (<0.99 g/day), men with NGT at baseline were at a significantly increased risk for developing prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes when drinking large amounts of beer (≥5.00 g/day), at an odds ratio of 1.63, while a high consumption of spirits (≥1.65 g/day) more than doubled the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, at an OR of 2.07.

Among the women with NGT at baseline, a reduced risk for prediabetes was seen with a high wine intake (≥1.65 g/day) compared with a low intake (≤0.32 g/day), at an OR of 0.66, and consuming a medium amount of spirits (0.33-1.65 g/day) was protective for Type 2 diabetes compared with a low amount (≤0.32 g/day), at an OR of 0.39.

"As low to medium alcohol intake in women reduced the risk, it is possible that factors other than ethanol might play a role," write Ostenson et al.

"This study underlines the need for further investigations in this field with a focus on gender differences and the impact of specific beverages and drinking frequency on the development of Type 2 diabetes," they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sally Robertson

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