Evidence has been accumulating that instead of harming diabetic patients as many clinicians fear, alcoholic beverages might benefit them. But the studies have been largely observational, and the data are sparse. A new trial adds substantial evidence.

Researchers at three centers in Israel randomized 109 patients (aged 41-74 years) with type 2 diabetes who abstained from other alcohol to receive either 150 mL of wine (13 g of alcohol) or nonalcoholic beer (the control group) each day for three months.

Results showed that fasting plasma glucose decreased from 139.6 mg/dL to 118.0 in the wine group, whereas control subjects showed a slight increase, from 136.7 to 138.6. Patients in the alcohol group with higher baseline levels of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) experienced even greater reductions in fasting glucose. In addition, the wine group showed slightly greater reductions in waist circumference and in HbA1c and LDL levels. Neither group, however, showed any significant change in two-hour postprandial glucose levels.

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No notable adverse effects or changes in liver function biomarkers occurred during the trial. The researchers also reported that based on follow-up interviews, the wine did not promote alcohol-addictive behavior (Diabetes Care. 2007;30:3011-3016).