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Drinking alcohol may lower rheumatoid arthritis risk

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THURSDAY June 5, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- Drinking alcohol may help cut the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50%, suggests a study published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The study involved more than 2750 people participating in two separate studies on the association between environmental and genetic risk factors and rheumatoid arthritis.

Scandinavian researchers compared two groups that have age, sex, and residential locality matched, one group consisting of 1650 patients with arthritis and the other without the disease, selected randomly from the general population.

Participants were surveyed on their lifestyles, including dietary practices. Blood samples were tested for genetic risk factors.

There was an inverse association between drinking alcohol and risk of developing arthritis. Those who drank more alcohol were significantly less likely to have rheumatoid arthritis.

The quartile of people who drank the highest amounts of alcohol was up to 50 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who drank the least.

The association was observed in both men and women.

Alcohol seemed to cut the risk most in smokers with genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking is a known major risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Recent research by other researchers showed that alcohol protected against the development and reduced the severity of rheumatoid arthritis.

The results of the current study were merely to indicate an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, between drinking alcohol and reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, meaning drinking alcohol would not definitely lead to reduction in the risk of the disease.

Kim Sk and colleagues from Catholic University of Daegu School of Medicine, Daegu, South Korea, reported that alcohol consumption had a negative association with extraarticular manifestations in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Kim's study was published in the May 1, 2008, issue of the Journal of Rheumatology.

Alcoholic beverages are recognized human carcinogens. Those who want to drink alcohol to prevent rheumatoid arthritis should also consider the possible side effects this chemical may cause.

By David Liu, Ph. D., and edited by Heather Kelley.
published on foodconsumer.org on Jun 5, 2008 - 3:54:02 PM


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