Study reveals diabetes risk for young women who binge drink

Young women who binge drink increase their risk of developing diabetes later in life. Pic: Phil Wilkinson    .
Young women who binge drink increase their risk of developing diabetes later in life. Pic: Phil Wilkinson .

A new study has found that young women who binge drink increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Dr Karina Nygren, lead author of the study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, said young women who drink heavily at least once a month raise the chances of having higher blood sugar levels by middle age which is a major risk factor for diabetes.

Strangely, the same link was not found in men and this gender difference has puzzled the experts.

Dr Nygren, from Umea University in Sweden, said: “We surveyed almost 900 people for a total of 27 years, from the age of 16 to 43 in order to assess drinking of alcohol in relationship to blood glucose. We defined ‘binge’ as drinking more than six units of alcohol, which is the equivalent of four small glasses of wine or four bottles of beer, in an evening.

“Women who did this once a month in their teens had blood sugar levels in their 40’s that were on average seven per cent higher than those who did not.

“These findings are particularly alarming, because higher blood glucose is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, especially as these results are irrespective of body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and smoking when they reach middle age.”

Jim Bett, service manager at Fife Alcohol Support Service (FASS) said: “Earlier this year, a study by the Office for National Statistics among 16 to 24 year olds in the UK found that girls and women were more likely to binge drink regularly than men. Over 40 per cent of young women have admitted to having done so in the past week, and this showed an increase of plus three per cent on last year.

“By comparison, only 34.4 per cent of men admitted to doing the same, which was a decrease of 13 per cent on last year.”

Jim concluded that nearly four million UK residents have type 2 diabetes which is usually associated with being overweight, having a poor diet and lack of exercise, but there are a further 12 million people at risk of developing the disease.” Fife Alcohol Support Service (FASS) offers free counselling for those who are suffering the problems caused by alcohol. Call FASS on (01592) 206200.