Can Alcoholism Cause Diabetes?

According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive alcohol consumption can increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When women consume more than one drink per day, or when men consume more than two drinks per day, the pancreas may become inflamed. When inflammation develops, the pancreas may not be able to secrete insulin. This eventually leads to diabetes.

Binge Drinking and Insulin Resistance

Alcoholism is a disease that often includes binge drinking. This is the worst type of drinking because it is believed to cause insulin resistance. A study published in the Jan. 30, 2013 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine involved rats who were given alcohol for three days to mimic binge drinking in humans. The control group was fed the same amount of calories.

In this study, the rats were tested when there was no more alcohol in their blood. In the group that had been given large amounts of alcohol, higher levels of plasma insulin were found in their bodies. This suggests that the insulin resistance might have caused impaired glucose tolerance. Scientists and doctors acknowledge that levels of high plasma insulin are risk factors that increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and stroke.

Before this study, it was not known if binge drinking could lead to diabetes. This is likely because binge drinking is often associated with binge eating, said Claudia Lindtner, M.D., author of the study and an Associate Researcher of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. This study showed that binge drinking can induce insulin resistance independent of how many calories a person eats.

Moderation is Key

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetics should drink no more than the recommended amount for men and women who are not diabetic. Women should have no more than one drink per day, and men should limit their alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day. Research has shown that moderate amounts of alcohol do not affect a person's blood sugar level. One drink is considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 to 1-1/2 ounces of hard liquor.

It is important for anyone with diabetes to always eat food with their alcoholic drink. The American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetics never drink on an empty stomach or when their blood sugar level is low. If you count carbs to plan your meals, do not include the alcohol in your diet as a carbohydrate. If you are diabetic, it is important to check with your health care provider regarding your particular case of diabetes.

Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo: Pexels

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