Alcohol consumption is inversely correlated with insulin resistance, independent of metabolic syndrome factors and fatty liver diseases

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Oct;45(9):808-13. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e318223bd53.


Background and aim: The role of alcohol consumption in insulin resistance remains unclear. The aim of this study was to examine the association between alcohol consumption and insulin resistance in a large asymptomatic population.

Methods: A total of 2463 asymptomatic Japanese men aged 28 years or above undergoing a comprehensive health checkup including an oral glucose tolerance test between May 2007 and April 2010 were recruited. Participants positive for hepatitis B or C virus, abstinent alcoholics, those taking hepatotoxic drugs, those with chronic renal or hepatic failure, and those under treatment for metabolic disorders were excluded. Fatty liver was defined ultrasonographically. Visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissues were measured with computed tomography. The homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) score was determined to estimate insulin resistance. The association between alcohol consumption and HOMA-IR score was investigated with multivariate regression analysis.

Results: A total of 1902 participants were eligible for this cross-sectional survey. A significant difference in distribution of each drinking category was noted between 249 participants with insulin resistance (HOMA-IR ≥2.5) and 1653 participants without insulin resistance (HOMA-IR <2.5; P=0.001). Light (40 to 140 g/wk), moderate (140 to 280 g/wk), and heavy alcohol consumption was inversely associated with HOMA-IR scores (coefficients=-0.125, -0.127, and -0.162; P=0.007, 0.011, and 0.006, respectively) with multivariate analysis after adjusting for potential confounding variables, including visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissues, metabolic profiles, fatty liver, and liver enzyme activities.

Conclusions: Alcohol consumption was inversely associated with insulin resistance, independent of central obesity, metabolic profiles, and fatty liver diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography