Drinking Alcohol in Moderation Protective of Type 2 Diabetes

The moderate consumption of alcohol (beer, wine and liquor or distilled spirits) is protective for type 2 diabetes (adult-onset diabetes) in both men and women, according to an analysis of 20 longitudinal cohort studies.

Consumers of alcoholic beverages at different consumption levels were compared to lifetime abstainers. This was done to eliminate any possible "sick-quitter" effects.

Lifetime abstainers and heavy drinkers were at the greatest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women who consumed an average of about two drinks per day had a 40% reduction in risk for developing the disease. The beneficial effects of drinking alcohol were observed for up to three drinks per day for women.

For men, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was lowest among those who consumed about one and one-half drinks per day and benefits continued for up to four drinks per day.

The researchers describe some of the biochemical mechanisms for risk reduction, which include increases in insulin sensitivity after moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, changes in levels of metabolites of alcohol, increases in HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") levels, and the anti-inflammatory effect of alcohol.

Drinking alcohol (beer, wine and liquor or distilled spirits) in moderation is also beneficial to health in general and to enjoying greater longevity, unless contraindicated for medical reasons. A standard drink is:

Standard Drinks

Standard Drinks graphically illustrates information on the equivalence of standard drinks of beer, wine and distilled spirits or liquor.

Standard drinks contain an equivalent amount of alcohol and are all the same to a breathalyzer and to both health and long life.

The research on alcohol consumption and diabetes was conducted at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, and published in Diabetes Care.

Note: This website makes no health or medical recommendations on drinking alcohol and diabetes and none should be inferred.


  • Baliunas, D.O., et al. Alcohol as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Care, 2009, 32, 2123-2132.


  • (listing does not imply endorsement)
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Filed Under: Diabetes

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