The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern Denmark and found that individuals who drink alcohol, especially wine, about four times a week are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who abstain from alcohol or drink less.
Published in the journal Diabetologia, the study analysed data collected from about 70 000 Danish adults to determine how much they drank and how often. Participants were tracked for five years, and it was found that those who drank moderately to above moderately a week had the lowest risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
More specifically, men who had about 14 drinks a week decreased their type 2 diabetes risk by 43% and women who had about nine drinks a week decreased the same risk by 58%.
“We found that drinking frequency has an independent effect from the amount of alcohol taken. We can see it’s a better effect to drink the alcohol in four portions rather than all at once,” said Professor Janne Tolstrup, lead author of the study and professor of epidemiology and intervention research at the University of Southern Denmark’s National Institute of Public Health.
“For the same total weekly amount of alcohol, spreading it out on more days is better than drinking it all together.”
While other types of alcohol had benefits, red wine stood out as the drink with the most because it contains polyphenols which play a pivotal role in managing blood sugar.
And while spirits didn’t have any effect on men, it seemed to increase the diabetes risk in women. It was found that women who had a minimum of seven hard-liquor drinks a week increased their diabetes risk by a whopping 83%. But Professor Tolstrup stressed that this particular finding is less conclusive as there were few people in the study who drank spirits on a regular basis.
“Any recommendations about how to drink and how much to drink should not be inferred from this study or any study investigating associations between alcohol and a single outcome such as diabetes.”
She went on to say that people who do drink should stick to the suggested guidelines for moderate drinking, and that those who drink shouldn’t start now in order to reap the health benefits.
“Alcohol is associated with 50 different conditions, so we’re not saying ‘go ahead and drink alcohol’,” she stressed.
Speaking to the BBC, Rosanna O’Connor, the director of drugs, alcohol and tobacco at Public Health England, said a study such as this isn’t helpful because it focuses only on one aspect of the effects of alcohol.
“Consuming alcohol contributes to a vast number of other serious diseases, including some cancers, heart disease and liver disease, so people should keep this in mind when thinking about how much they drink,” she said.