Moderate Drinking May Cut RA Risk

Rheumatoid arthritis risk halved in women who drank

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Alcohol has been the cause of many problems. Be that as it may, drinking red wine in moderation has been shown to protect heart health. Moderate drinking may also do some good for women trying to avoid arthritis.

Women who drink more than three glasses of alcohol per week, for at least a decade, may cut their risk of rheumatoid arthritis in half.

"If you drink, do so moderately."

According to Professor Alijca Wolk of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and her fellow researchers, long-term drinking has been known to affect the immune system. They write that drinking alcohol may control the production of substances that cause inflammation - a central aspect of rheumatoid arthritis.

Professor Wolk and colleagues studied the link between alcohol intake and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women.

They found that women who reported drinking more than three glasses of alcohol per week had a 52 percent reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, compared to women who never drank.

Drinking more than four glasses of alcohol per week was associated with a 37 percent reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, compared to drinking less than one glass of alcohol per week or never drinking at all.

Whether women were drinking beer, wine or liquor, these findings held.

"The results of this study indicate that moderate consumption of alcohol may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis among women," the authors write.

These findings fall in line with the reduced risk of heart disease associated with moderate drinking, they write.

This study adds to the evidence that drinking in moderation "is not harmful and can be protective against such a chronic disease as rheumatoid arthritis," they write.

Still, more research is needed to understand how drinking higher levels of alcohol can affect the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

For the study, Professor Wolk and colleagues collected data on alcohol intake in 1987 and 1997. Between 2003 and 2009, they looked for new cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

The research was supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council’s Committee for Research Infrastructure for maintenance of the Swedish Mammography Cohort, and from the Karolinska Institute’s Award for PhD students.

The study was published July 10 in BMJ.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 12, 2012
Last Updated:
November 14, 2012