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Alcohol Cuts Risk of Developing Arthritis

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 05, 2008 9:36 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Rheumatoid Arthritis, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Resveratrol and Red Wine, Auto-Immune Disease

Consumption of at least three drinks a week seems to have a protective effect against rheumatoid arthritis. 



 IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ Rheumatoid Arthritis/ author: PD U.S. Gov. 


Drinking alcohol may have a protective effect against rheumatoid arthritis (RA), researchers in Sweden find.

Regular consumption of alcohol seems to cut the risk of developing RA by up to half.

The findings come from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden which looked at 2,750 people and found that for those who drank what amounts to five glasses of wine a week, their risk for RA reduced by up to 50 percent compared to those who didn’t drink much.

"Drinking more than three drinks per week is associated with a 50 percent decrease for developing rheumatoid arthritis," Henrik Kallberg of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska tells U.S. News & World Report.

Red wine is increasingly under the spotlight for resveratrol, found in red grape skin that has some anti-aging properties. Resveratrol has an ability to fight bacteria and pathogens and has been made into supplements.

But this study did not differentiate between red wine or alcohol in general. 

The findings are published in the June 4 online edition of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Researchers find that people who had antibodies to a group of proteins that develop into rheumatoid arthritis showed the most protective effect from alcohol. Even among those with a genetic risk factor for RA, drinking also reduced the risk of the disease.

Alcohol consumption raises the risk of other health problems however, and the researchers conclude that drinking in excess has risks that far outweigh potential benefits for reducing the risk of RA.  

For example, alcohol can damage the liver in people taking anti-rheumatoid drugs.

Other lifestyle factors were taken into account in the study, and smoking was found to increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.  

Dr. John Hardin, of the Arthritis Foundation says environmental factors play a role. 

“What this means to me is that things that cause an inflammatory state in the body are a hazard,” he says. “We know that smoking is one of the things associated with a systemic inflammatory response,” Hardin tells U.S. News & World Report.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease, meaning a person’s immune system turns on itself, causing painful, stiff and swollen joints.  

Genetics are thought to play a role while environmental factors and lifestyle factor causes are unknown.

RA affects 1.3 million Americans, according to the Arthritis Foundation. # 

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