Alcohol consumption may cut arthritis risk

 
By UF&Shands Writer • Published: May 4th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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A glass of wine a day can keep your heart healthy.

Now it appears drinking may also help your joints.

An article published by the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases suggests alcohol consumption reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

That’s a chronic disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation, pain and eventual destruction of cartilage and bone.

Previous studies have shown alcohol may diminish production of chemicals that cause inflammation.

In the article, researchers analyzed data from two studies, one in Sweden and one in Denmark.

Each study involved hundreds of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

The participants provided blood samples and health information including their past and present alcohol use.

The researchers divided participants into four groups… nondrinkers and those with light, moderate or heavy alcohol use.

In both studies, light drinkers were about twice as likely as heavy drinkers to have rheumatoid arthritis.

The contrast was even more dramatic when the researchers accounted for two additional factors… tobacco use and the presence of a specific antibody.

Among people with the antibody, rheumatoid arthritis was more than four times as common among teetotalers who smoked, compared with drinkers who’d never smoked.

The researchers stopped short of recommending alcohol use to prevent rheumatoid arthritis, though they did recommend further study.

One thing they didn’t hesitate to recommend… the best way to cut your risk of rheumatoid arthritis is to avoid smoking, or quit.

That’s good advice… no ifs, ands or cigarette butts.