Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison are saying that light to moderate alcohol consumption decreases the risk of death due to coronary heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
The study was published in the July 21 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). According to Dr. Charles Valmadrid of the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison, the association between alcohol consumption and risk of cardiovascular outcomes in diabetic individuals had not been previously determined.
The study followed 983 type 2s living in southern Wisconsin between the years 1984 and 1986. The subjects were interviewed about their past-year intake of alcoholic beverages. The study compared people who never drank alcohol with people who reported drinking up to two drinks of alcohol per day. A twelve-year follow-up study was then conducted.
Data from the study showed that alcohol consumption might lower the risk of death from coronary heart disease by as much as 80 percent.
“Coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death in persons with type 2 diabetes, accounting for about 40 percent of all deaths,” says Valmadrid. “Understanding this relationship is important, given the high rates of morbidity and mortality due to coronary heart disease in type 2 diabetes and the current evidence for the cardioprotective role of moderate alcohol intake in the general population.”
Peter Lodewick, MD, medical director at the Diabetes Care Center in Birmingham, Alabama, feels that the subject of alcohol consumption by people with diabetes is a touchy one, and that there are many parameters to consider before recommending moderate consumption.
“People with neuropathy must be leery,” says Lodewick. “People with alcohol abuse must be leery. People who are prone to low blood sugars must be leery. Then there is the problem of self-control when the spirits of alcohol are amongst you.”
In the same issue of JAMA, an editorial was published cautioning against counseling patients who have never consumed alcohol before to begin drinking.