Page last updated: Monday, May 12, 2008
Alcohol and heart disease in diabetics
Research articles recently published from the University of Wisconsin and Osaka, Japan, indicate that light to moderate alcohol intake was associated with reduced mortality risk due to coronary heart disease (CHD) in people who develop diabetes later in life. Compared to lifetime abstainers a reduction of up to 79% was found in people who drank up to one drink a day, in the Wisconsin study. The researchers C.T Valmadrid, M.D., M.P.H, and colleagues concluded, "Our results suggest an overall beneficial effect of alcohol consumption in decreasing the risk of death due to CHD in people with older-onset diabetes."

According to the researchers, the study represents the first prospective cohort study to examine the relationship between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular outcomes in diabetic individuals, particularly important because CHD "remains the leading cause of death in persons with type 2 diabetes, accounting for about 40% of all deaths." A statement was issued by the American Diabetes Association noting that "the study reaffirms the association's position on alcohol consumption that allows moderate alcohol intake. However, the same precautions regarding the use of alcohol that apply to the general public should also apply to people with diabetes."

In an accompanying editorial, M.H Criqui, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues acknowledge the favourable findings on moderate consumption and the reduction of coronary heart disease but caution against a general recommendation to begin drinking. From the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, researchers recommend that advice should be handled on an individual basis, whether or not the patient has diabetes.

In the second study, the relationship between daily alcohol consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes in a large Japanese cohort was investigated. According to the report, type 2 diabetes affects about 7 million Japanese individuals for whom lifestyle factors may be important in the etiology of the disease. The Osaka Health Study involved 6,362 Japanese men aged 35-61 years who at the beginning g of the study did not have the following: diabetes, impaired fasting glucose, hypertension or liver cirrhosis. The researchers concluded, "Among men with higher BMI (body mass index), moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes." This conclusion adds to developing research from other cross-cultural studies that have looked at insulin levels and insulin sensitivity and found that moderate alcohol consumption may have protective effects.

Source:Valmadrid CT, et al. Alcohol intake and the risk of coronary heart disease mortality in persons with older-onset diabetes mellitus. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999; 282:239-246. Criqui and Golomb. Should persons with diabetes consume alcohol? (editorial). Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999:282:279-280. Tsumura K, et al Daily alcohol consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes in Japanese men. Diabetes Care, 1999;22(9): 1432-1437

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