Page last updated: January, 2011
Moderate alcohol consumption lowers risk of metabolic diseases in a population with high mean alcohol intake


A cross-sectional analysis of data from subjects in Switzerland related varying levels of alcohol intake to the presence of diabetes mellitus, the “metabolic syndrome,” and an index of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).  The strengths of this paper include being population-based and having a large number of subjects who reported that they consumed 14 or more drinks/week.  Also 27% of subjects reporting no alcohol intake during the one week of assessment used for classifying subjects.  Another strength is the careful confirmation of drinking status with state-of-the-art laboratory tests.  In multivariate analysis, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and mean HOMA-IR decreased with low-risk drinking and increased with high-risk drinking.  No differences were noted according to the type of beverage consumed.
This is a cross-sectional analysis, so a causative relation between alcohol intake and the metabolic outcomes cannot be assessed.  Still, the data support much that has been shown in prospective studies.  Several Forum members commented on potential problems when considering a number of physiologic conditions as the “metabolic syndrome” and focusing therapy on the syndrome; they believed that each metabolic factor should be evaluated and treated singly.
Source:  Clerc O, Nanchen D, Cornuz J, Marques-Vidal P, Gmel G, Daeppen J-B, Paccaud F, Mooser V, Waeber G, Vollenweider P, Rodondi N.  Alcohol drinking, the metabolic syndrome and diabetes in a population with high mean alcohol consumption.  Diabet Med 2010;27:1241–1249.
For the detailed critique of this study by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, please visit www.bu.edu/alcohol-forum/988/

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