Apr. 1, 2005 Chevy Chase, MD -- Researchers have discovered that a small amount of alcohol after dinner reduces the health risk of insulin and glucose related diseases in postmenopausal women. Published in the February issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, these findings may explain the decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, in people who drink alcohol in moderation.
Previous studies have shown that healthy people who drink small amounts of alcohol regularly have a smaller risk of developing heart disease and diabetes compared to people who either don’t drink or drink in excess. Although significant research has been conducted to discover why alcohol in moderation may have these benefits, most previous studies have measured fat levels in the blood when people are fasting, many hours after their last drink. Unlike earlier methods, where fasting was required and since alcohol is more likely to be consumed socially, this study examines how alcohol could work in reducing heart disease by improving risk factors following a meal.
The researchers from the Garvan Institute in Sydney, Australia studied 20 postmenopausal women who were given a small amount of alcohol (15 grams) after their meals. They found that when alcohol was consumed with a meal low in carbohydrate but high in fat, the increase in glucose levels after the meal was lessened, particularly in those with lower body fat and lower insulin levels. This benefit was not seen when alcohol was consumed with a meal high in carbohydrate and fat.
“We found that artery stiffness, a strong predictor of increased heart disease risk, was improved when alcohol was consumed with the low carbohydrate meal but this benefit was not seen following the high carbohydrate meal,” says Dr. Lesley Campbell, lead author of the study.
The researchers also found that alcohol increased the number of calories burned after both meals, which may account for their previous finding that moderate drinkers have less body fat than non-drinkers.
JCE&M is one of four journals published by The Endocrine Society. Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones, and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Endocrinologists are specially trained doctors who diagnose, treat and conduct basic and clinical research on complex hormonal disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, obesity, hypertension, cholesterol and reproductive disorders. Today, The Endocrine Society's membership consists of over 12,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students, in more than 80 countries. Together, these members represent all basic, applied, and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society, and the field of endocrinology, visit the Society's web site at http://www.endo-society.org
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