Teenage binge drinking in women linked to type 2 diabetes


Women who binge drink as teenagers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later, research claims.

Research has found that high alcohol consumption on a regular basis from the age of 16 increases the glucose concentration in a woman’s blood, a risk factor which could trigger the condition later in life. This link was not detected in men.

Type 2 diabetes is when an individual doesn’t produce enough insulin in their body, or their body doesn’t give the right reaction to the insulin.

In the first-ever research of its type, 897 people involved in the Northern Swedish Cohort study were followed for 27 years from 1981. Each was given questionnaires about their alcohol intake at the ages of 16, 18, 21, 30 and 43 years old, with questions including, ‘How often do you drink alcohol?’ and ‘How much do you drink at each occasion?’ Binging for women was gulping down four or more standard drinks of beer, spirits or wine at least once a month, whereas for men it was four drinks.

After the final questionnaire, people’s blood glucose levels were measured via a blood sample. It was discovered that in women, total alcohol consumption and the behaviour of binge drinking was significantly linked with higher blood glucose levels separate of their smoking status, body mass index (BMI) and hypertension at 43 years old.

Men, however, didn’t show this link, with BMI and hypertension simply linked to an increase in glucose levels.

“Our findings show that high alcohol consumption from ages 16 to 43 is associated with higher blood glucose levels in women but not in men,” Dr. Karina Nygren, lead author from Umea University, Sweden, said. “Because higher blood glucose is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, our data suggest that informing people about the risk of high alcohol consumption at a young age could have positive health impacts further down the line.

“Although there are some biological explanations behind why alcohol can directly lead to increased levels of glucose in the blood, the difference between men and women in our study is more difficult to explain.”

Findings were published in BMC Public Health.

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