October Health Pearls – Alcohol, Intermittent Fasting, and the Covid-Diabetes Connection

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October 19, 2021

Alcohol Consumption and Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk:  Drinking Frequency vs Quantity

A study from Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, S. Korea, recently released in JAMA Network Open, shows drinking frequency being more important than the alcohol quantity in raising the risk of GI cancer.  The 6 cancers targeted in the study were: esophagus, stomach, colorectal, liver, biliary and pancreas. 

It is the frequency of alcohol consumption, even at lower amounts, that might put patients at higher risk for GI cancers than occasional consumption of greater amounts of alcohol or binge drinking.  The author concluded that patients should be counseled to avoid regular alcohol consumption even at small quantities, in addition to counseling about the total amount of alcohol consumed.

Time Restricted Eating for Weight Loss?

Time-restricted eating refers to a pattern in which calorie intake is limited to less than 12 hours, a form of intermittent fasting. A review of 39 clinical trials of shows how metabolic diseases that reduce longevity – like diabetes and high cholesterol – can be prevented or even reversed using this method.  The senior author Dr. Satchidananda Panda, of the Salk institute of Biological studies in CA, believes that by eating at consistent times each day, a more stable circadian rhythm is established, allowing patients to better manage their weight and improve their sleep.  He advised, as many scientists in Lifestyle Medicine have done over the years, that sleeping and eating time should be consistent each day.  In 24 of these 39 studies, weight decrease was observed.

Most of these 39 studies were short and small, and the authors believe larger randomized studies are needed on this subject.

Link between COVID-19 and New Onset of Diabetes

COVID-19 infection has brought a big increase in new-onset diabetes, reported by Dr. Irl Hirsch of University of Washington.  The mechanism by which COVID-19 and diabetes are connected is complex. Endocrinologists believe that the infection causes release of cytokines which lead to damage to the patients’ liver cells, thereby increasing insulin resistance.  The virus can enter and possibly damage the islet cells of the pancreas, causing impaired insulin release, and  lead to acute diabetes. A Covid Diabetes Registry has been established to hopefully gather enough data to clarify some issues linking new onset diabetes and COVID-19 infection