Alcohol Awareness Week – Alcohol & Type 2 Diabetes

Alcohol, do we know the facts?

Every day we see the impact of hazardous, dangerous and dependent alcohol consumption – we see lives severely affected by addiction, its health and social impacts and the devastating harm it causes to families and relationships.  However, our services work to change this.

Educating people on the dangers of hazardous alcohol consumption can make a big difference and help stop lives being blighted by addiction.  This week is Alcohol Awareness Week, with the particular theme of alcohol and its relation to health.  Each day we will be sharing facts and information about alcohol and its influencing role in many health issues – read on and share and promote these messages.

Alcohol and (Type 2) Diabetes

There are 2 types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2, however, type 2 is the form of diabetes that can be directly attributable to alcohol consumption.  Type 2 diabetes is linked to weight gain, amongst other factors, and occurs when the pancreas makes insufficient insulin or the body becomes insulin resistant.

Heavy alcohol consumption (particularly ‘binge-drinking’) is linked to type 2 diabetes in many ways. Firstly, it greatly contributes to chronic pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas), which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Secondly, it can contribute to weight gain; and lastly, it damages the lining of the stomach and intestine walls, demoting a healthy diet and the absorption of nutrients and blood sugar regulation.

People with type 2 diabetes who drink large volumes of alcohol may be at risk of severe hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), which could be fatal. Alcohol is metabolised by the liver and inhibits the liver’s ability to produce glucose. Too much insulin and not enough glucose causes the blood sugar too drastically fall. Symptoms of alcohol-related hypoglycaemia include blurred vision, dizziness, sweating and irrational behaviour. This can be prevented by not drinking on an empty stomach and eating carbohydrates.

Diabetes (both types) costs the UK economy around £9 billion a year, and is only set to increase. Limiting alcohol consumption is one of the most effective ways to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially later in life.

Stats

  • Consuming 5 or 6 alcoholic drinks a day increases risk of type 2 diabetes by 15% – 75%, particularly in women
  • Consuming 26 units of alcohol over 3 days has been found to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes 5-fold
  • A third of people with chronic pancreatitis will develop type 2 diabetes

Raising Awareness

It is clear that alcohol consumption contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of people developing type 2 diabetes is to limit alcohol consumption and raise awareness of the link amongst the wider public.

As a charity dealing with these issues every day, we are the experts by experience – we see the results of alcohol dependence, but importantly, work to rectify them.  We are committed to raising awareness of the dangers of hazardous alcohol consumption, preventing addiction and ensuring people are aware of the risks.

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