Aims To examine associations between amount and frequency of alcohol consumption, and Type 2 diabetes.
Methods A prospective study of 36 527 adults aged 40–69 at baseline. Incident cases of Type 2 diabetes were identified by questionnaire 4 years later. Sex-specific logistic regression models, adjusting for country of birth, dietary glycaemic index, energy intake and age, and in a second model body mass index (BMI) and waist–hip ratio (WHR), were used.
Results Diabetes status was ascertained for 31 422 (86%) participants, and 362 cases identified. Former drinkers had higher risks than lifetime abstainers. Female drinkers had lower risk than lifetime abstainers (ORs < 10 g/day 0.54, 95% CI 0.36–0.82; 10–19.9 g/day 0.57, 0.34–0.94; ≥ 20 g/day 0.46, 0.24–0.88, P trend = 0.005). There was no relationship after adjustment for body size. For men, a weak inverse association was observed after adjustment for body size (ORs relative to lifetime abstainers: < 10 g/day 1.56, 0.95–2.55; 10–19.9 g/day 1.21, 0.69–2.10; 20–29.9 g/day 0.80, 0.40–1.60; = 30 g/day 0.86, 0.50–1.58, P trend = 0.036). Wine was the only beverage for which an inverse association was observed. Compared with men who did not drink in the week before baseline, men who drank ≥ 210 g over 1–3 days had an increased risk of diabetes (OR 5.21, 1.79–15.19), while the same amount over more days did not increase risk.
Conclusions Total alcohol intake was associated with reduced risk only in women. Alcohol from wine was associated with reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. A high daily intake of alcohol, even on only 1–3 days a week, may increase the risk of diabetes in men.