Drinking alcohol most days of the week can significantly protect against developing diabetes, a study has found.
Consuming alcohol three or four days per week was associated with a reduced risk of 27 per cent in men and 32 per cent in women, compared with abstaining.
Wine had the biggest effect, probably because it contains chemical compounds that improve blood sugar balance, said researchers.
But there was a warning to women to stay clear of the gin bottle. A daily tipple of “mothers’ ruin” or other spirits increased the diabetes risk to women by 83 per cent.
Previous studies had already suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption can cut the risk of diabetes, but the new research is the first to focus on drinking frequency.
Scientists studied data on 70,551 men and women taking part in a large Danish health survey who were quizzed about their drinking habits and monitored for five years.
The authors, led by Professor Janne Tolstrup from the University of Southern Denmark, wrote in the journal Diabetologia: “Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with the risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3 to 4 weekdays is associated with the lowest risks of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account.”
During the follow-up period, a total of 859 men and 887 women from the study group developed diabetes. The investigation did not distinguish between the two forms of diabetes, Type 1 and the much more common Type 2.
In terms of the amount of alcohol consumed, men who downed 14 drinks per week were 43 per cent less likely to develop diabetes than those who drank nothing.
The diabetes risk to women who consumed nine drinks per week was 58 per cent lower than it was for non-drinkers.
For both men and women, seven or more glasses of wine per week lowered the risk of diabetes by 25 per cent – 30 per cent compared with having less than one drink of wine.
One to six beers per week reduced diabetes risk by 21 per cent in men but had no effect on women.