The Effect of Alcohol on Blood Glucose Levels in Patients with Diabetes: A Systematic Review

Evans, Elizabeth (2008) The Effect of Alcohol on Blood Glucose Levels in Patients with Diabetes: A Systematic Review. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)] (Unpublished)

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Introduction: Diabetes mellitus is a common condition affecting an estimated 180 million people worldwide, a figure that is set to double by 2030. Consumption of alcohol in young people in the UK has doubled in the last decade, leading to concern about the health and social consequences of increasing alcohol use.

Aims, Objectives and Methodology: The aim of this systematic review is to determine the effect that alcohol consumption has on blood glucose levels in diabetes mellitus. The main objectives are 1) to determine how alcohol affects glycaemic control in diabetes mellitus; 2) to determine how alcohol affects the diabetic patient; 3) to determine how current diabetes education regarding alcohol consumption reflects the available evidence.

Results: Of seven hundred and eight (708) potentially relevant studies, seven (7) studies were identified for analysis. Three key themes apparent from the findings were 1) hypoglycaemia; 2) changes in glucose action; 3) impaired hormonal response.


In diabetes, alcohol appears to cause hypoglycaemia via inhibition of gluconeogenesis, impaired carbohydrate absorption and suppression of growth hormone. However, alcohol was also found to inhibit cellular glucose uptake, which raises overall blood glucose levels. Alcohol has also been shown to have cognitive effects that can lead to impaired self-care behaviours, which may increase long term blood glucose levels.

Conclusion: From this systematic review it can be concluded that alcohol may cause hypoglycaemia in subjects with diabetes mellitus. Conversely, two of the studies selected found that alcohol led to more variable blood glucose levels, associated with impaired cellular glucose uptake, and reduced compliance to diabetes treatment and self-care behaviours, leading to increased blood glucose levels. There is a need for large-scale, valid RCTs focused on the effect of alcohol on blood glucose levels to improve evidence-based education for diabetic patients who drink alcohol.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Keywords: Master of Nursing Science, MNursSci, Systematic Review, Alcohol, Diabetes
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2008
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2018 15:19

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