Among women, those who reported being lifetime abstainers of alcohol had a higher risk for developing diabetes when compared with those who reported consuming alcohol less than 1 day per week (HR = 1.77; 95% CI, 1.25-2.51).
Men and women who hoist a few glasses three to four days a week have the lowest risks of developing diabetes, Danish researchers found.
The most beneficial drink is wine, probably because it contains chemical compounds that improve blood sugar balance.
One to six beers per week reduced diabetes risk by 21% in men but had no effect on women.
It's important to note, however, that most experts recommend that if you don't already drink alcohol, you shouldn't start because of possible health benefits.
In the past studies have suggested that light to moderate drinking can reduce the risk of developing diabetes but no research has ever explored the frequency of alcohol consumption. Compared to people drinking less than one day each week, men who drink frequently had a 27% lower risk while women had a 32% lower risk, the researchers said. In total during the follow up, 859 men and 887 women developed diabetes.
The researchers noted that they weren't able to distinguish between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes using the available data.
Men and women who drank seven or more glasses of wine each week had a 25% to 30% lower risk of diabetes compared with those who drank less than one glass.
The report appeared in journal Diabetologia, the authors saying: "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".
The timing of those drinks also mattered.
In addition, it's not likely that a lot of people would develop type 2 diabetes during the relatively short follow-up time of five years used in this study, according to Vella. Their results showed that hard liquor provided no benefit to men, while women could actually increase their risk of diabetes if they drank those liquors.
Rosanna O'Connor, director of drugs, alcohol and tobacco, Public Health England, said: "It is not helpful to talk about the effect of alcohol consumption on diabetes alone". "Beer may increase blood sugar levels (carbs!) while hard liquor may lead to dangerously low glucose levels". Several risk factors for type 2 diabetes include lifestyle factors, body weight, especially around the waist, and family history. Women who averaged 9 drinks a week had a 58% lower risk of diabetes than non drinkers. The impact of the regular alcohol consumption regarding the Type 2 risk will differ from person to person. In other words, it's possible that binge drinking is linked to diabetes risk, but more research is needed.