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Diabetes Study Cites Alcohol Benefits

June 10, 2003|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — Light to moderate drinking can reduce the risk of diabetes in women, according to a study published Monday.

The Harvard University findings involved 109,690 women ages 25 to 42 who took part in a continuing study of nurses' health.

During 10 years of follow-up, women who had about half a drink to two drinks a day of alcohol were 58% less likely than nondrinkers to develop Type 2 diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes.

Conversely, those who had more than two drinks of hard liquor a day faced more than double the risk of nondrinkers. Previous studies in men also linked heavy drinking with an increased diabetes risk.

The study appears in Archives of Internal Medicine. S. Goya Wannamethee of Royal Free and University College Medical School in London led the research as a visiting Harvard scholar.

The findings are not surprising, given similar results found previously in older women and men.

In Type 2 diabetes, the body produces inadequate amounts of insulin, a hormone that regulates how the body converts sugar into energy. Small amounts of alcohol are believed to help the body make better use of insulin.

However, younger women should not view the results as a reason to start drinking, because alcohol can increase their risk of breast cancer, said co-researcher Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Manson said there is also evidence that getting more exercise and losing weight have the greatest effect on preventing Type 2 diabetes.

"There seems little justification to encourage those who do not drink regularly to do so for health benefits," the researchers said.

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