The worldwide prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase by 37 percent between 2000 and 2030, according to a previously published report. It is believed that in many cases, the cause of this increasingly common disease in the United States is due to the lack of exercise and the high prevalence of obesity, as well as the normal aging of the population, researchers say.
Previous studies have linked alcohol consumption to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes but reviews of these studies were inconclusive about the scope of the association and the incidence of the disease associated with heavy drinking. To clarify the association, Dr. Lando L. J. Koppes, of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and his team searched the literature for studies about type 2 diabetes and alcohol consumption that were published between 1966 and July 2004. The studies, conducted in the United States, Japan, Finland, Korea, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK, involved a total of 11,959 cases of type 2 diabetes among 369,862 men and women who were followed for an average 12 years.
Altogether, the compiled findings revealed a U-shaped association between alcohol drinking and type 2 diabetes risk, such that the lowest risk of the condition was found among moderate drinkers and the highest risk occurred among nondrinkers and heavy drinkers. Body mass index, a measure of height versus weight, did not seem to affect the results.
Those who drank between 6 and 48 grams of alcohol per day, were about 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers, the report indicates. The risk of the condition among those who drank 48 grams of alcohol a day or more was similar to that among those who did not drink alcohol.
Previous researchers have reported a similar association between moderate alcohol drinking and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The exact mechanism by which moderate alcohol drinking reduces the risk for either condition is unknown.
“With the expectation of more than 100 million new cases of type 2 diabetes in the coming two decades,..attaining prevention is the central challenge,” the authors of this report contend.
Source: Koppes LLJ et al. Moderate Alcohol Consumption Lowers the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. Diabetes Care 2005;28:719-25.