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Looking to ward off diabetes? Drink alcohol, study suggests, but only certain kinds

Drinking beer helps prevent diabetes in men, the study found, but has no effect on women.
Drinking beer helps prevent diabetes in men, the study found, but has no effect on women. Wikimedia Commons

That glass of red wine or beer you drink does more than just give you a buzz — it may actually help prevent type 2 diabetes, according to a new Danish study from the journal Diabetologia.

The study, which collected its data from over 70,000 Danish people, found those who drink a moderate amount of alcohol three to four days a week had the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes, including nondrinkers and heavy drinkers.

The study used data from the Danish Health Examination Study and looked at the drinking habits of 41,847 women and 28,704 men. The researchers then tracked whether the subjects developed diabetes within a five-year period.

Specifically, the researchers found that men who had 14 drinks a week had a 43 percent less chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared to non-drinkers, whereas women who had 9 drinks a week had a 58 percent less chance than non-drinkers.

The study, however, has a few caveats.

The findings are limited to beer and wine, as hard liquor had no effect on men and actually increased the risk of diabetes for women, the study found.

Women who drink seven or more shots a week have an 83 percent higher chance of developing diabetes, the study found. The study also concluded that women do not benefit from drinking beer, whereas men who had up to six beers a week experienced a 21 percent lower chance of diabetes. Wine provided the biggest reduction in type 2 diabetes risk for both men and women.

It’s also important to space out those drinks instead of consuming them all in one day, senior researcher Janne Tolstrup said to Newson6.

"Drinking frequency was important, as those who were drinking three to four times per week had lower risk as compared to those drinking only once per week — regardless of the total weekly amount," Tolstrup said.

The study also did not find a proven cause-and-effect between alcohol consumption and diabetes. Instead, it simply found an association between the two.

Dr. Adrian Vella of the Mayo Clinic said the study may be flawed because it relied on people accurately remembering what they ate and drank. She also pointed out that the five-year period in the study is too short of a time frame for diabetes to develop.

“I wouldn’t recommend increasing alcohol consumption on the basis of this study,” she said.

We challenge our wine columnist, Connie Ogle, to see if she can distinguish between wine from a box, a can and a bottle. The results are surprising.

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