Page last updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Moderate Drinking and Diabetes Risk
Reflecting the findings of many other studies that moderate alcohol use reduces blood sugar levels in sufferers of type 2 diabetes, Dr. Iris Shai of Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva and colleagues randomized 109 adults with type 2 diabetes who had previously abstained from alcohol to have 150 ml of wine (13g alcohol) or a nonalcoholic diet beer (control) daily with dinner for 3 months.

A total of 91 patients completed the trial. The age range of the study subjects was 41 to 74 years.

Average fasting blood sugar levels were 139.6 mg/dL at the outset in the intervention group, and it fell to 118.0 mg/dL after 3 months with alcohol consumption. Starting fasting blood sugar levels were 136.7 in controls, and remained essentially unchanged 3 months later at 138.6 mg/dl.

Patients with higher starting hemoglobin A1C levels - a measurement of blood sugar - had greater reductions in fasting blood sugar with alcohol consumption than those with lower A1C levels.

Alcohol consumption had no effect on post-meal blood sugar levels. It was important that the subjects drank alcohol with their evening meal, which contained carbohydrates, Shai commented.

Summing up, Shai said this study “might suggest that moderate alcohol consumption could be considered as prescription for patients with type 2 diabetes in very specifically eligible groups” but added a caveat. “A patient who drinks one glass of wine a day should balance the extra calories by omitting 100 kcal that come from a carbohydrate source ... It is important to note that higher doses of alcohol are dangerous and each patient should talk with his physician before initiation.”

Source: Diabetes Care, December 2007.

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