Healthy postmenopausal women who consume 1 to 2 drinks a day are better able to respond to insulin and tend to have a lower level of insulin in their blood than do those who consume no alcohol. Both characteristics reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These results were published in the May 15, 2002, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In the study, 51 healthy postmeno-pausal women rotated among 3 treatment periods of 8 weeks duration, in which they consumed no alcohol, 1 drink a day, or 2 drinks a day. Blood tests showed insulin levels nearly 20% lower after subjects consumed 2 drinks, compared with when they consumed no alcohol. Levels of triglycerides were ~10% lower when they consumed 2 drinks a day, compared with no alcohol. Insulin sensitivity rose by ~7% after 2 drinks, whereas blood glucose remained constant across treatment groups.
The researchers used pure ethanol mixed with orange juice, so it is not clear whether drinking wine, beer, or whiskey would introduce compounds that might positively or negatively affect the results.