Light Drinking Linked With Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes for Some Women

Some alcohol, but not more than 1 drink per day, was linked to a 55% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women with a history of gestational diabetes.

For women with a history of gestational diabetes, habitual light alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), a study published in JAMA Network Open found.

In the study, habitual alcohol intake was defined as 5.0 to 14.9 grams per day (g/d) or approximately 0.5-1 alcoholic drink per day. Researchers found that habitual alcohol consumption was associated with a 55% lower risk for T2D (HR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.33-0.61) compared with no alcohol consumption, independent of demographic and other major dietary and lifestyle factors.

Since women with gestational diabetes—diabetes during pregnancy—are at a higher risk for T2D, identifying dietary and lifestyle factors that can be modified can help delay or prevent progression to T2D.

The prospective cohort study focused on 4740 women with a history of gestational diabetes with a mean (SD) age at baseline of 38.2 (5.0) years. Researchers followed up for up to 27 years between 1991 and 2017 with a median follow-up time of 24 years (interquartile range, 18-28 years).

When adjusted for BMI, habitual consumption was associated with a 41% lower risk for T2D (HR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.42-0.81). The study found no association of alcohol consumption between 0.1 and 4.9 g/d or 15.0 g/d or more (maximum, 74.2 g/d) with T2D risk.

“These findings should be interpreted in the context of other known risks and benefits of alcohol consumption when considering clinical recommendations for individual women with a history of gestational diabetes,” the authors noted.

Model covariates included:

  • Age
  • Parity (1, 2, 3, or 4)
  • Age at first live birth (24, 25-29, or 30 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity (White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or other)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Oral contraceptive use (current, former, or never)
  • Menopausal status (premenopausal or postmenopausal)
  • Cigarette smoking status (current, former, or never)
  • Lactation length (6 to 12 months, >12 to 24 months, or >24 months)
  • Physical activity level
  • Total energy intake
  • AHEI-2010 diet quality score without the alcohol component
  • Coffee consumption
  • Tea consumption

The researchers also conducted analyses by type of alcohol, including liquor, wine, and beer.

In fully adjusted models, liquor consumption was not associated with risk of T2D compared with no liquor consumption.

In multivariable analyses, beer consumption of 1.2 to 2 servings per week and 3.3 to 6 servings per week was associated with a 51% and 45% decreased risk of T2D compared with no beer consumption, respectively. When adjusted for BMI, 1.2 to 2 servings per week was linked to a 45% decreased risk and 3.3 to 6 servings per week was linked to a 40% decreased risk.

In the age-adjusted and multivariable analyses, wine consumption of 3.5 to 6 servings per week was associated with a 54% and 46% decreased risk of T2D, respectively, compared with no wine consumption. However, when adjusted for BMI, there was only a 27% decreased risk.

“Although our findings suggest that alcohol consumption of 5.0 to 14.9 g/d compared with no consumption is associated with a 41% lower risk for type 2 diabetes among women with a history of gestational diabetes, they should not be interpreted in isolation from other health outcomes” the authors emphasized. “Among those who consume alcohol, consumption of 0.1 to 14.9 g/d has been associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes and lower all-cause mortality, although consumption levels as low as 5 to 9 g/d have been associated with a modest increase in the risk for breast cancer.”

Reference:

Hinkle SN, Bao W, Wu J, et al. Association of habitual alcohol consumption with long-term risk of type 2 diabetes among women with a history of gestational diabetes. JAMA Netw Open. Published online September 9, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.24669