Carried out by Professor Janne Tolstrup and a team from the National Institute of Public Health of the University of Southern Denmark, the researchers looked at the effects of drinking frequency on diabetes risk, and a potential association between risk and specific beverage types.
The team analyzed data from the Danish Health Examination Survey (DAHNES) from 2007-2008, looking at 70,551 DAHNES participants who had provided details of their alcohol consumption and followed the subjects for a median of 4.9 years.
From their questionnaire responses participants were placed into various categories: abstainers — both lifetime and current — and individuals drinking alcohol less than 1 day per week; 1-2 days/ week; 3-4 days/ week and 5-7 days/ week.
The team also looked at how often the participants engaged in binge drinking, and collected information on which alcoholic beverages were consumed and how much each week.
After taking into account factors such as age, sex, level of education, body mass index, smoking status, diet, leisure time activity, blood pressure and family history of diabetes, the team found that, as in previous studies, those who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol had the lowest risk of developing diabetes.
Men consuming 14 drinks per week were found to have a 43% lower risk of diabetes compared to those who didn’t drink at all, and women consuming 9 drinks per week had a 58% lower risk compared to abstainers.
When looking at how often alcohol was consumed, the team found that 3-4 days a week gave the lowest risk of diabetes, with men benefiting from a 27% lower risk and women a 32% lower risk when compared to those who drank less than one day per week.
With regards to what alcohol had the most benefits, the team found that as in previous studies a moderate to high intake of wine was associated with a lower risk of diabetes, with men and women who consumed 7 or more drinks of wine per week showing a 25-30% lower risk of diabetes compared with those having less than 1 drink of wine per week.
Beer also helped reduced the risk in men, with those who consumed between 1 and 6 beers per week benefiting from a 21% lower risk compared to men drinking less than 1 beer per week.
However, beer was not associated with diabetes risk in women.
Women however showed an 83% increased risk of diabetes if they drank 7 or more drinks of spirits per week when compared with women consuming less than 1 drink, although there was no statistically significant association for men.
No association was found between binge drinking and diabetes risk, although the team suggested that this could be due to few participants reporting binge drinking.
Despite the findings in the current study, alcohol consumption has been linked to a variety of other health conditions in other studies, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, with results on how much alcohol can lower or increase risk of other diseases still mixed.
The findings can be found published online published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).