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Research Summary

Hemoglobin A1C Levels Are Lower among People with Diabetes Who Consume Alcohol

Few studies measuring the effects of alcohol consumption on glycemic control in patients with diabetes have been undertaken. To assess this association, investigators conducted a follow-up survey of 38,564 adult patients with diabetes included in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry. The surveys, which were conducted between 1994 and 1997, assessed alcohol consumption based on a modified AUDIT-C* questionnaire. Hemoglobin A1C (A1C) was assessed within 1 year of the survey date for each participant. Multivariable analyses were adjusted for sociodemographic and clinical variables and disease severity.

 

  • Alcohol consumption was linearly and inversely associated with A1C.

 

 

Average daily drinks consumed

mean

A1C value

0 (lifetime abstainers)

8.88

0 (former drinkers)

8.79

<0.1

8.90

0.1–0.9

8.71

1–1.9

8.51

2–2.9

8.39

≥3

8.47

 

Comments:

This study suggests that alcohol intake is associated with significantly lower levels of A1C, a summary measure of glycemic control. As stated by the authors, earlier research has shown that a 1-point reduction in A1C is associated with a 21% reduction of the risk of diabetes complications and a 37% reduction in the risk of microvascular complications. Thus, the decrease in A1C levels associated with alcohol use in this study, if not due to uncontrolled confounding or the cross-sectional design, could translate into clinically important reductions in diabetes complications for some people with diabetes who drink moderately.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD
*Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test—Consumption

Reference:

Ahmed AT, Karter AJ, Warton EM, et al. The relationship between alcohol consumption and glycemic control among patients with diabetes: the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Diabetes Registry. J Gen Intern Med. 2008;23(3):275–282.


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