Page last updated: October 26, 2017

Alcohol drinking patterns and risk of diabetes

Previous research has suggested that alcohol consumption is inversely associated with diabetes, but little is known about the role of drinking patterns. A study examined the association between alcohol drinking patterns and diabetes risk in men and women from the general Danish population.

28,704 men and 41,847 women participated in the cohort study, based on data from the Danish Health Examination Survey 2007-2008. Participants were followed for a median of 4.9 years. Self-reported questionnaires were used to obtain information on alcohol drinking patterns, i.e. frequency of alcohol drinking, frequency of binge drinking, and consumption of wine, beer and spirits, from which the researchers calculated beverage-specific and overall average weekly alcohol intake. Information on incident cases of diabetes was obtained from the Danish National Diabetes Register.

During follow-up, 859 men and 887 women developed 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. Compared with current alcohol consumers consuming <1 day/week, consumption of alcohol on 3-4 days weekly was associated with significantly lower risk 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.

These findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with risk of diabetes with consumption over 3-4 days per week being associated with the lowest risk, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account. Source: Alcohol drinking patterns and risk of diabetes: a cohort study of 70,551 men and women from the general Danish population. Holst C, Becker U, Jørgensen ME, Grønbæk M, Tolstrup JS. Diabetologia. 2017 Jul 27.

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