Purpose: To study the effects of chronic alcohol intake on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in subjects with non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetes (NIDDM). To also evaluate the effect of alcohol withdrawal on metabolic control.
Patients and methods: The study group consisted of 46 alcohol-consuming patients with NIDDM (NIDDM-B group), 35 non-alcohol-consuming patients with NIDDM (NIDDM group), and 40 normal control subjects. All patients were admitted to the hospital. Carbohydrate and lipid metabolism was assessed in these individuals immediately on admission to the hospital and during the following days.
Results: In the NIDDM-B group, blood alcohol (ethyl alcohol) concentration was very low. However, chronic alcohol intake was associated with higher fasting and postprandial glucose concentrations and higher hemoglobin A1c. No significant differences were found in C-peptide levels. Moreover, higher concentrations of 3-hydroxybutyrate and free fatty acids were observed in the NIDDM-B group than in the NIDDM group. No differences were found in triglyceride concentrations, acid-base patterns, or electrolyte levels. The metabolic effects of alcohol completely waned after 3 days of complete withdrawal.
Conclusion: Chronic alcohol intake causes deterioration in metabolic control of persons with NIDDM. The effects induced by alcohol are completely reversed after a few days of withdrawal. Strict metabolic assessment is necessary when alcohol is an important constituent of the diet.