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Moderate drinking may reduce risk of diabetes

Moderate drinking may reduce risk of diabetes

Publication date: Friday, 15 September 2017
Contributor(s): Jeremy Bray

Moderate yet frequent alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes in both men and women, with alcohol consumption over 3–4 week days giving the lowest risk.

The present study used data from the Danish Health Examination Survey (DAHNES) from 2007–2008 to examine the effects of drinking frequency on diabetes risk, and also consider any association with specific beverage types. Over 70,000 participants had given details of alcohol consumption.

During follow up, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes. In terms of weekly alcohol amount, the findings mirrored those of previous studies – the lowest risk of developing diabetes being found in individuals consuming moderate amounts of alcohol.  For example, men consuming 14 drinks per week were found to have a 43% lower risk of diabetes relative to no alcohol intake, and women consuming 9 drinks per week had a 58% lower risk compared with women who did not drink at all.

The study showed that consumption of alcohol 3–4 days a week gave the lowest risk of diabetes – a 27% lower risk in men and a 32% lower risk in women – when compared to individuals drinking less than one day per week.

Moderate to high intake of wine was associated with a lower risk of diabetes, in line with previous studies. The authors suggest that this might be due to a beneficial effect that polyphenols in wine have on management of blood sugar, giving red wine in particular a potential protective impact. Men and women who consumed 7 or more drinks of wine per week had a 25-30% lower risk of diabetes compared with those having less than 1 drink of wine per week. Beer also gave a lower diabetes risk in men and spirits were associated with a higher diabetes risk in women.

  • Consumption of 1–6 drinks of beer/week was significantly associated with a lower risk of diabetes (HR 0.79 [95% CI 0.67, 0.94])
  • Consumption of ≥7 drinks of wine/week had around a 30% lower risk of diabetes compared with men drinking <1 drink of wine/week.


  • Drinking ≥7 drinks of spirits/week was associated with a higher risk of diabetes (HR 1.83 [95% CI 1.29, 2.58]) compared with women drinking <1 drink of spirits/week.

Table 1. Impact of beverage types.


The findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with the risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3–4 weekdays is associated with the lowest risks of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account.

Holst C, et al. Alcohol drinking patterns and risk of diabetes: a cohort study of 70,551 men and women from the general Danish population. Diabetologia 2017; DOI 10.1007/s00125-017-4359-3

Topics covered:
Category: Evidence in Practice
Edition: Volume 2 Number 8 PCCJ Online 2017
Contributor(s): Jeremy Bray

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