Moderate Drinking Reduces Diabetes Risk

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A "meta-analysis" of 15 different studies has added to the mounting evidence that moderate alcohol consumption may protect against type 2 diabetes. The new look at the studies, which totaled 369,862 men and women worldwide, was published in the journal Diabetes Care.

A team of Dutch scientists concluded that moderate drinkers were about 30 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than nondrinkers. As with other studies on the health effects of alcohol, however, the meta-analysis emphasized the importance of moderation: Heavier drinkers had just as great a diabetes risk as teetotalers.

The choice of spirits didn't make much difference, but consumption patterns did. One drink daily, researchers said, was better than "saving it up for the weekend" and binging on seven drinks come Friday night.

The federal government's dietary guidelines define "moderate" alcohol consumption as one drink daily for women and two for men; a "drink" is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. In the Dutch analysis, the heavy-drinker group was defined as those who consumed the equivalent of four or more drinks daily.

The meta-analysis found a slightly greater benefit from moderate alcohol consumption for women than for men, but researchers said it wasn't enough to be significant.

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