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Regular drinking can reduce risk of developing diabetes, study suggests

Key Points
  • Drinking three to four times a week could reduce the risk of developing diabetes, according to new research.
  • The study found frequent, moderate drinking reduced the chances of getting the illness by 32 percent for women and 27 percent for men.
  • Wine and beer seen as most beneficial, while clear spirits can be harmful to women.
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Drinking alcohol three to four times per week could significantly reduce a person's chances of developing diabetes, according to a new study.

Wine is tipped to be the most beneficial, followed by beer, but researchers warn that clear spirits, such as gin and vodka, could substantially increase a woman's chances of succumbing to the condition.

Experts argue, however, that the health impacts of alcohol consumption can vary from person to person and the study should not be taken as a "green light" for excessive drinking.

The new research, published in European medical journal Diabetologia, surveyed more than 70,000 Danish participants on their drinking habits over the course of five years.

Of the 859 men and 887 women who developed diabetes over this period – either type 1 or type 2 – those who drank frequently emerged as the least at risk.

The lowest risk of diabetes was observed at 14 drinks per week in men and nine drinks per week in women.

"Our findings suggest that alcohol drinking frequency is associated with the risk of diabetes and that consumption of alcohol over three to four weekdays is associated with the lowest risks of diabetes, even after taking average weekly alcohol consumption into account," Professor Janne Tolstrup from the University of Southern Denmark noted in the report.

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The researchers concluded that moderate but regular drinking could reduce a woman's risk of diabetes by 32 percent and a man's risk by 27 percent, compared with those who drink less than once a week.

For both men and women, wine was seen as reducing the risk by more than 25 percent and beer by 21 percent. Clear spirits, on the other hand, were thought to increase women's risks of developing diabetes by 83 percent.

But health experts have urged caution over the findings. Diabetes UK, the British charity dedicated to supporting people suffering from the condition, said that people should not see it as an incentive to drink.

"Type 2 diabetes risk is complex. Several factors contribute to it, including family history, ethnic background, age and being overweight," Dr Emily Burns, head of Research Communications at Diabetes UK, told CNBC via email Friday.

"While these findings are interesting, we wouldn't recommend people see them as a green light to drink in excess of the existing NHS guidelines. Especially as the impact of regular alcohol consumption on the risk of Type 2 will be different from one person to the next."