June 04, 2008
Alcohol Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk?

Why would alcohol consumption cut the risk of an auto-immune disease? Does alcohol act like an anti-inflammatory and dampen the immune response to inflammation of joints?

Alcohol cuts the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50%, reveals research published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The Scandinavian researchers base their findings on more than 2750 people taking part in two separate studies, which assessed environmental and genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.

Over half the participants (1650) had the disease and had been matched for age, sex, and residential locality with randomly selected members of the general public.

All participants were quizzed about their lifestyle, including how much they smoked and drank. And blood samples were taken to check for genetic risk factors.

The results showed that drinking alcohol was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. And the more alcohol was consumed, the lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Among those who drank regularly, the quarter with the highest consumption were up to 50% less likely to develop the disease compared with the half who drank the least.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is definitely a disease you want to avoid. Not only does it cause lots of pain. But this auto-immune disease appears to do wider damage. RA sufferers have a much greater risk of heart disease.

The researchers found that while 85 percent of the RA patients between the ages of 50 and 59 had an intermediate or high risk for developing heart disease within 10 years of diagnosis, just 27 percent of comparable non-RA patients did. Among patients between the ages of 60 and 69 at the start of the study, 100 percent of the RA patients had an intermediate or high risk for heart disease, compared with 79 percent of non-RA patients.

When looking at just "high risk" among the 60 to 69 age group, the difference was even more dramatic: 85 percent for RA patients, compared to just 40 percent for non-RA patients.

The researchers concluded that more than half of RA patients 50 to 59, and all RA patients over the age of 60, had a 10 percent or greater risk of developing heart disease within 10 years of an RA diagnosis.

An earlier report found a doubling to tripling of heart disease risk from rheumatoid arthritis.

Aside from drinking alcohol what else can you do to cut your RA risks? Turns out that vitamin D consumption is strongly inversely correlated with rheumatoid arthritis risk.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 June 04 10:44 PM  Aging Diet Studies

Diode Boy said at June 5, 2008 6:58 AM:

The next trendy drink? Vitamin D fortified alcohol. Like vitamin fortified water, but with a kick! :-)

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