Serum insulin concentrations in daily drinkers compared with abstainers in the New Mexico elder health survey

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003 Oct;58(10):M960-3. doi: 10.1093/gerona/58.10.m960.


Background: Recent epidemiological studies have shown that individuals who ingest alcohol regularly have a lower prevalence of diabetes mellitus than those who abstain. The purpose of this study was to compare serum glucose and insulin concentrations between daily drinkers and abstainers stratified by diabetic status (participants with diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and normal glucose tolerance) to determine if there was a difference in glucose sensitivity (resistance) that might explain the lower prevalence of diabetes in drinkers.

Methods: A cross-sectional community survey was conducted of 883 randomly selected Hispanic and non-Hispanic white men and women, aged >or=65 years, undergoing a home interview and 4-hour interview/examination in a senior health clinic (The New Mexico Elder Health Survey). The interviews included a history of frequency, type, and quantity of alcohol ingested. Serum samples were obtained after an overnight fast and 2 hours after ingestion of 75 grams of glucose for determination of glucose and insulin levels. Height and weight was measured for determination of body mass index.

Results: Participants who consumed alcohol daily had significantly lower fasting and 2-hour postglucose serum insulin concentrations compared with those who abstained from alcohol intake, when adjusted using linear logistic regression models for serum glucose concentration, gender, ethnicity, age, and body mass index.

Conclusions: Abstainers with their relative hyperinsulinemia appear to be more insulin resistant than daily moderate drinkers. This difference in insulin sensitivity may explain the lower prevalence of diabetes in drinkers compared with abstainers observed in various epidemiological studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • New Mexico
  • Prevalence
  • Temperance


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin