London: Alcohol has its bad side but moderate drinking -- three to four times a week -- may keep diabetes at bay, researchers claim.
According to the team from the National Institute of Public Health at University of Southern Denmark, alcohol consumption for three-four times a week is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes in both men and women.
"Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with the risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over 3-4 weekdays is associated with the lowest risks of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account," the authors wrote in a paper published in the journal Diabetologia.
The study, by Professor Janne Tolstrup and colleagues, examined the effects of drinking frequency on diabetes risk, and also considered association with specific beverage types.
The study used data from the Danish Health Examination Survey (DAHNES) from 2007-2008, in which Danish citizens aged 18 and over completed a self-reporting questionnaire including items on lifestyle and health.
Those who already had diagnosed diabetes were excluded, as were women who were pregnant or had recently given birth.
The study comprised 70,551 participants who had given details of alcohol consumption.
Consumption of specific beverage types -- wine, beer and spirits - was coded as less than one drink per week, 1-6 drinks per week and 7 or more drinks per week for women and 7-13 and 14 or more drinks per week for men.
During follow up, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes.
Men consuming 14 drinks per week were found to have a 43 per cent lower risk of diabetes relative to no alcohol intake, and women consuming 9 drinks per week had a 58 per cent lower risk compared with women who did not drink at all.
In terms of frequency, the data revealed that consumption of alcohol 3-4 days a week gave the lowest risk of diabetes -- a 27 per cent lower risk in men and a 32 per cent lower risk in women -- when compared to individuals drinking less than one day per week.
The study found no clear evidence of an association between binge drinking and diabetes risk, which, the authors suggest, may be due to low statistical power since few participants reported binge drinking.
Previous studies have consistently suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption - in terms of amount consumed - is associated with a lower risk of diabetes compared with abstention in men and women.
Heavy consumption, however, is associated with a risk greater than or equal to that of abstainers.