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Research Summary

Moderate Alcohol Use Lowers Diabetes Risk in Older Women

The relationship between alcohol use and type 2 diabetes in men is U-shaped—moderate drinkers have a lower risk than nondrinkers and heavier drinkers do. Dutch researchers examined whether this relationship exists in older women, assessing alcohol use and diabetes incidence among 16,330 women aged 49–70 years. During an average of 6 years of follow-up, about 760 women developed type 2 diabetes.

Women with more years of moderate drinking had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes (e.g., hazard ratios comparing moderate drinkers with abstainers and adjusted for potential confounders: 1.1 for those who had 1 daily drink for 0–4.9 years and 0.8 for those who had 1 daily drink for 20–29.9 years; P for trend=0.007).


Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in older women, as in other populations. Recent research suggests that alcohol may increase serum adiponectin (an insulin-sensitizing adipocyte-derived hormone) and insulin sensitivity. Nonetheless, in the absence of definitive intervention trials, clinicians should consider the implications of this study cautiously.

Peter D. Friedmann, MD, MPH


Beulens JWJ, Stolk RP, van der Schouw YT, et al. Alcohol consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes among older women. Diabetes Care. 2005;28(12):2933–2938.