Moderate Drinking Tied to Lower Diabetes Risk

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Middle aged women who eat a lot of refined carbs might offset their risk of type 2 diabetes by drinking a moderate amount of alcohol, a new study suggests.

Following more than 80,000 women over 26 years, researchers found that those who ate a diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, potatoes and sugary drinks, had a 30 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than women with similar eating habits who didn't drink alcohol.

Previous research has linked moderate drinking with lower diabetes risk, but the new study tried to get at why that might be by looking specifically at women with high-glycemic diets -- that is, diets high in the refined carbs that are prone to raise blood sugar.

"If you eat a high carb diet without drinking alcohol, your risk of developing diabetes is increased by 30 percent," said senior author Dr. Frank Hu, who studies nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

"However, if you eat a high carb diet, but (drink) a moderate amount of alcohol, the increased risk is reduced," he told Reuters Health. Nearly half of the estimated 26 million American adults with diabetes are women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Diabetes can lead to additional serious health issues, such as heart disease and stroke, nerve damage and amputations.

The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, doesn't prove alcohol protects against diabetes. But Hu and his colleagues speculate that alcohol might affect the body's release of insulin and other substances after a meal, blunting the blood-sugar spikes that promote diabetes.

Hu's team analyzed data on 82,000 women participating in the long-term Nurses' Health Study. After 26 years of follow-up, 6,950 women, or about nine percent, who were diabetes free at the outset had developed the condition. …