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The effect of alcohol consumption on insulin sensitivity and glycemic status

Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This reduced risk might be explained by improved insulin sensitivity or improved glycemic status, but results of intervention studies on this relation are inconsistent.

The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies investigating the effect of alcohol consumption on insulin sensitivity and glycemic status.

PubMed and Embase were searched up to August 2014. Intervention studies on the effect of alcohol consumption on biological markers of insulin sensitivity or glycemic status of at least 2 weeks’ duration were included. Investigators extracted data on study characteristics, outcome measures, and methodological quality.

Fourteen intervention studies were included in a meta-analysis of six glycemic end points. Alcohol consumption did not influence estimated insulin sensitivity (standardized mean difference [SMD] 0.08[-0.09 to 0.24]) or fasting glucose (SMD 0.07 [-0.11 to 0.24]) but reduced HbA1c (SMD -0.62 [-1.01 to -0.23]) and fasting insulin concentrations (SMD -0.19 [-0.35 to -0.02]) compared with the control condition. Alcohol consumption among women reduced fasting insulin (SMD -0.23 [-0.41 to -0.04]) and tended to improve insulin sensitivity (SMD 0.16 [-0.04 to 0.37]) but not among men. Results were similar after excluding studies with high alcohol dosages (>40 g/day) and were not influenced by dosage and duration of the intervention.

Although the studies had small sample sizes and were of short duration, the current evidence suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may decrease fasting insulin and HbA1c concentrations among nondiabetic subjects. Alcohol consumption might improve insulin sensitivity among women but did not do so overall.

Source: The effect of alcohol consumption on insulin sensitivity and glycemic status: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. Schrieks IC; Heil AL; Hendriks HF; Mukamal KJ; Beulens JW. Diabetes Care. Vol 38, No 4, 2015, pp723-732.

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