I know that ethanol increases insulin secretion--could someone explain why?

All I have found till now is experimental data analyses. I am interested in mechanism of alcohol consumption.

  • $\begingroup$ Consumption of ethanol? Injection of ethanol? ethanol secreted by the body? Could elaborate a bit and possibly give us some links to your claim of "ethanol increases insulin secretion"? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth Thank you for your answer! Here is my source of information: medicinenet.com/alcohol_and_nutrition/page4.htm , and I am interested in mechanism of peroral alcohol consumption. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe this should migrate to biology? To my knowledge, main results of ethanol consumption are changes of lipid membranes (ethanol dissolves in the membranes), synthesis of acetaldehyde that can modify structure of many molecules via condensation and slowly oxidized into acetic acid with change of internal pH. This changes are nonspecific and results in numerous responces in metabolism. It is especially true for change in properties of cell membranes, where all cell receptors are located and which are place where neural signal run. $\endgroup$
    – permeakra
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ @permeakra Thank you for participation! I won't be against, if my question will be moved to biology SE, if it will more likely receive answers there. As you see, that is my first question here, so I am not sure about local foundations. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


Alcoholic beverages, ingested casually, deliver two main nutrients the body will metabolize: sugar and ethanol. The body's natural response to a rise in blood glucose will be stimulated secretion of insulin (from B cells of the pancreatic islets). Alcohol is metabolized primarily by the liver, being first converted to acetaldehyde by alohol dehydrogenase and a coezyme NAD+. Acetaldehyde metabolism quickly converts this to acetate. Acetate is then eventually metabolized elsewhere in the body to carbon dioxide and water. The interesting effects are mediated by acetaldehyde, which can accumulate to toxic levels in some people. This ties into insulin because this article suggests that alcohol consumption changes blood flow from exocrine pancreas (responsible for digestive enzymes) to endocrine pancreas (responsible for secreting homrones, such as glucagon, insulin, somatostatin). Alcohol seems to modulate the late-phase of insulin secretion, increasing secretion, which leads to exaggerated glucose disposal and at least for diabetics causes hypoglycemia.

  1. Huang Z, Sjöholm A. Ethanol acutely stimulates islet blood flow, amplifies insulin secretion, and induces hypoglycemia via nitric oxide and vagally mediated mechanisms. Endocrinology. 2008 Jan;149(1):232-6. Epub 2007 Oct 4.
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for explanation and link, I read the article from endojournals and my interest was absolutely satisfied. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 14:39

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