The risk of metabolic syndrome is reduced by moderate alcohol drinking. This fact is important for maintaining good health and long life.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
There are four such conditions. They’re excess body fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Any of these conditions increases the risk metabolic syndrome. If more than one occurs, the risk increases. Unfortunately, only one of these conditions is visible. That’s excess fat around the waist. But that alone is serious enough to have blood and blood pressure tests. The tests can tell if the other conditions exist.
Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
• Age. Increasing age increases the risk.
• Race. Hispanics and Asians have greater risk.
• Obesity. The risk increases with obesity. Especially among those whose body is apple shaped rather than pear shaped.
• Diabetes or a family history of type 2 diabetes.
• Other diseases. Cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), or polycystic ovary syndrome. These increase the chances of having metabolic syndrome.
Research repeatedly shows that moderate alcohol drinking reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Research: Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
We can’t safely generalize from one or two studies. And results vary somewhat from study to study.
Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine data from multiple studies. This can strengthen confidence in their findings. In turn, this helps us draw reasonable conclusions.
The analysis found that drinking alcohol in moderation significantly reduced the prevalence of metabolic syndrome.
The positive effects of moderate alcohol existed among men who had up to a little over three drinks per day. They existed among women who had up to one and one-half drinks each day.1
Other researchers conducted another meta-analysis. They used six prospective studies. The studies involved 28,862 participants.
The researchers compared drinkers with non-drinkers. Light drinkers had a reduced incidence of metabolic syndrome. Heavy drinkers had an increased incidence of the condition.2
Recent Research Studies
Investigators made a study in rural Nantong, China. A total of 20,502 persons aged 18-74 participated. The scientists collected data on socio-economic status, diet, exercise, drinking, and smoking.
The syndrome was found in 21.1% of the participants. It was much lower among drinkers than abstainers. Drinkers also had higher “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels than abstainers.3
Yet another study finds that drinking is associated with lower risk of getting metabolic syndrome among both men and women.
Hispanics/Latinos in U.S.
The investigators found that low and moderate consumption of alcohol was associated with lower rates of metabolic syndrome.4
Research shows that drinking alcohol in moderation reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Books: Drinking and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome.
Byrne, D., and Wild, S. The Metabolic Syndrome.
Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
Isaacs, S., and Vagnini, F. Overcoming Metabolic Syndrome. Omaha, NE: Addicus, 2006.
Levine, T., and Levine, A. Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
References: Alcohol and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome
1 Alkerwi A, et al. Alcohol consumption and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome. Athero, 2009, 204, 624–635.
2 Sun, K., et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome. Clin Nutr, 2014, 33(4), 596–602.
3 Xiao, J., et al. Association of alcohol consumption and components of metabolic syndrome. A study among people in rural China. Nutr Metab, 2015, 12, Art no 5, (12pp).
4 Vidot, D., et al. Alcohol consumption and metabolic syndrome among Hispanics/Latinos. Metab Syndr Relat Disord, June 15, 2016. [Epub early.]