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Drinking alcohol most days a week 'significantly protects against diabetes'

29 July 2017

Compared with current alcohol consumers consuming 1 day/week, consumption of alcohol on 3-4 days weekly was associated with significantly lower risk for diabetes in men (HR 0.73 [95% CI 0.59, 0.94]) and women (HR 0.68 [95% CI 0.53, 0.88]) after adjusting for confounders and average weekly alcohol amount.

The NHS advises that to keep health risks "low", men and women should drink no more than 14 units a week and, if we are consuming all of those units, to spread them over more than three days.

In the study, the researchers looked at data on more than 76,000 adults who participated in the Danish Health Examination Survey in 2007 to 2008.

Studies have shown that even "light" drinking of one alcoholic drink a day carries an increased risk of oesophageal cancer, whereas one to four alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of colorectal cancer, and four or more a day is linked to an increased risk of liver, gastric and pancreatic cancer, according to the recent United European Gastrology (ueg) report, Alcohol and Digestive Cancers Across Europe: Time for Change.

"Recommendations for alcohol in this case cannot be taken from a single study with only one outcome, because alcohol is associated with risk of more than 50 different diseases", said Janne Tolstrup, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Public Health in Copenhagen.

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It found that for both men and women, seven or more glasses of wine per week reduced the risk of diabetes by 25% and 30% respectively, compared with having less than one drink of wine.

During follow up, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes.

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.

The study revealed that men who had 14 drinks per week had a 43 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to non-drinkers, and women who had nine drinks per week had a 58 percent lower risk compared to non-drinkers.

The professor Janne Tolstrup said that as per their findings they found the alcohol drinking frequency associated with the risk of diabetes. Meanwhile, there was no relationship between binge drinking and diabetes risk.

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Adrian Vella of the Mayo Clinic told CBS News that studies that rely on participants' self-reported food and alcohol consumption could be inaccurate, since they may struggle to recall exactly what they ate and drank in the past. Polyphenols play a role in helping to manage blood sugar.

Although wine and beer got the all clear, the scientists did say for women to stay away from anything spirit related as it increased the diabetes risk in women by 83%.

"Several factors contribute to it, including family history, ethnic background, age and being overweight".

"Alcohol is associated with 50 different conditions, so we're not saying "go ahead and drink alcohol"," the health expert added. "Regularly drinking more than this can increase the risk to your health".

Next to wine, beer also had a positive effect on lowering diabetes risk. For women, the same frequency was associated with a 32 percent lower risk.

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Drinking alcohol most days a week 'significantly protects against diabetes'