DENVER—Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a low prevalence of post-transplant diabetes and decreased risk of death in renal transplant recipients (RTR), a study found.

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“Currently, many RTR are advised against the use of social amounts of alcohol because of fear for adverse effects in combination with the many drugs they frequently use,” said senior investigator Stephan J. L. Bakker, MD, PhD. “Our findings indicate that this fear is unrealistic, which may benefit not only quantity, but also quality of life of RTR.” 

The study, which was led by Dorien M. Zelle, MSc, a doctoral candidate at University Medical Center Groningen in Groningen, the Netherlands, examining data from 600 RTR with a mean age of 51 years at a median of 5.9 years post-transplant. Of the 600 subjects, 288 (48%) reported being alcohol abstainers, 94 (16%) said they were sporadic drinkers of alcohol, 210 (35%) reported moderate intake of alcohol, and eight (1%) said they were heavy drinkers.

The total prevalence of post-transplant diabetes was 78 (12%). Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a significant 67% decreased odds of post-transplant diabetes.

During a median follow-up of seven years, 33 (15.7%) of the patients in the moderate consumption group died compared with 75 (26.0%) of the abstainers, 23 (24.5%) of the sporadic drinkers, and two (25.0%) of the heavy drinkers, according to the researchers. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a 44% decreased risk of death.

In a poster presentation, the investigators concluded that “drinking moderate amounts of alcohol appears to be protective against diabetes and mortality in RTR, similar to the general population.”