Objective: To examine the association between low to moderate alcohol consumption and the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) in men.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Subjects and methods: Over an average period of 12.1 years, we evaluated 20 951 participants in the Physicians' Health Study between ages 40 and 84 years who were free of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes and provided data on alcohol consumption at baseline.
Main outcome measure: Type 2 DM diagnosed after randomization.
Results: Among 20 951 physicians, 766 cases of incident DM were reported over an average follow-up period of 12.1 years. After adjustment for age, randomized treatment assignment, smoking, physical activity, and body mass index, the relative risk estimates and 95% confidence intervals for those reporting alcohol use of rarely/ never, 1 to 3 drinks per month, 1 drink per week, 2 to 4 drinks per week, 5 to 6 drinks per week, and 1 or more drinks per day were 1.00 (referent), 1.03 (0.80-1.33), 0.89 (0.70-1.14), 0.74 (0.59-0.93), 0.67 (0.51-0.89), and 0.57 (0.45-0.73), respectively (linear trend, P<.001). Additional adjustment for baseline history of hypertension, high cholesterol level, or parental history of myocardial infarction or family history of diabetes (data collected at 9 years) did not materially alter the results. These associations persisted in analyses stratified by age, smoking status, body mass index, physical activity, and family history of DM.
Conclusion: These data indicate that apparently healthy men who self-select for light to moderate alcohol consumption have a decreased subsequent risk of type 2 DM.