Folks With RA May Tend to Avoid Booze

Rheumatoid arthritis patients reported less alcohol consumption compared to others

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) It’s hard to know why, but arthritis patients might be less likely to drink than people without arthritis. Researchers are unsure whether alcohol helped prevent arthritis or worsened symptoms.

In a recent study, researchers asked a group of recently diagnosed arthritis patients and a group of people in the general population whether or not they drank alcohol.

The results of this study showed that arthritis patients, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis, were less likely to drink than people in the general population.

"Ask your rheumatologist about alcohol consumption."

Annekoos L. Huidekoper, MD, from the Department of Rheumatology at Bronovo Hospital in The Hague, The Netherlands, and Diane van der Woude, MD, from the Department of Rheumatology at Leiden University Medical Center, worked with a team of researchers to study alcohol consumption among rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term disorder that causes painful inflammation in the small joints of the hands and feet.

Previous studies have shown that smoking can increase the risk for developing RA, but little research has looked into whether or not alcohol can play a role in developing RA.

For this study, the researchers recruited 922 arthritis patients who had been diagnosed within the past two years.

Arthritis subgroups included in the study were RA, osteoarthritis, reactive arthritis, spondyloarthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

The researchers included 5,868 people without any type of arthritis to use as a control group for comparison.

The researchers either had trained nurses interview participants or gave them a questionnaire to fill out about their alcohol consumption.

The results of the study showed that 83 percent of the controls drank alcohol, while only 53 to 68 percent of arthritis patients drank alcohol.

When broken down by arthritis subgroup, 68 percent of psoriatic arthritis patients drank alcohol, 63 percent of reactive arthritis patients drank alcohol and 58 percent of spondyloarthritis patients drank alcohol.

Overall, 56 percent of patients with RA drank alcohol, but some RA patients drank more than others.

RA patients were tested for the presence of anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, which are a known biomarker in the blood for the presence of RA.

RA patients who tested negative for anti-citrullinated protein antibodies were more likely to consume alcohol than RA patients who tested positive (58 percent versus 53 percent, respectively).

The study authors concluded that patients with arthritis, regardless of the type of arthritis, reported less alcohol consumption than people without arthritis.

The authors suggested that these findings could mean that alcohol may either protect against different kinds of arthritis or that arthritis patients might be less likely to drink, as the arthritis impairs their health or may aggravate symptoms.

This study was published in June in Rheumatology.

The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research, the Dutch Arthritis Foundation, The Netherlands Organization of Health Research and Development, the European Community Seventh Framework Program and the Innovative Medicine Initiative provided funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Review Date: 
June 18, 2013
Last Updated:
August 2, 2013