In the Journals

Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce fasting insulin, HbA1c in adults without diabetes

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April 9, 2015

Consumption of 10 to 40 g per day of alcohol can decrease fasting insulin and HbA1c levels in adults without diabetes, according to results of a meta-analysis published in Diabetes Care.

Moderate alcohol consumption may also improve insulin sensitivity in women, but this association was not found among men, according to researchers.

“The results suggest that drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is not harmful with regard to insulin sensitivity and glycemic status in healthy adults without type 2 diabetes,” researchers wrote.

Ilse C. Schrieks, MSc, of the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research in Zeist and the division of human nutrition of Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and colleagues from other institutions conducted a search of PubMed, MEDLINE and Embase for intervention studies, published up to August 2014, on the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on insulin sensitivity or glycemic status in adults without diabetes. Studies that included heavy drinkers or participants with a history of alcoholism were excluded, as were data from participants with type 2 diabetes. The final meta-analysis included 14 studies that evaluated glycemic status based on insulin sensitivity index (ISI, seven studies), homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR, five studies), insulin (nine studies), glucose (10 studies) and HbA1c (three studies).

The researchers found no effect of alcohol consumption on estimated insulin sensitivity (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.08) or fasting glucose (SMD =

0.07) compared with study control groups. Alcohol consumption was associated with reduced HbA1c (SMD = – 0.62) and fasting insulin concentrations (SMD = – 0.19) compared with the control groups. Among women, fasting insulin was reduced (SMD = – 0.23) and insulin sensitivity improved (SMD = 0.16) with alcohol consumption..

“These results may partly explain the lower risk of type 2 diabetes with moderate alcohol consumption found in observational studies. However, more intervention studies with a longer intervention period are necessary to confirm the results” the researchers wrote. – by Jill Rollet

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.