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Moderate drinking may reduce rheumatoid...
[Posted: Wed 11/07/2012 by Gillian Tsoi www.irishhealth.com]
Having three drinks a week can halve the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research.
The research shows that women who regularly consume more than three alcoholic drinks a week for at least 10 years have about half the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared with non-drinkers.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disorder that usually develops between the ages of 40 and 50.
About 1% of the world's population is affected - women three times more often than men.
A team of researchers in Sweden set out to analyse the association between alcohol and the condition. They studied over 34,100 Swedish women born between 1914 and 1948.
After adjusting for factors such as age, smoking and dietary habits, the women who reported drinking more than three glasses of alcohol per week had a 52% reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis compared with those who never drank.
This discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that long-term moderate alcohol consumption is not harmful and may protect against a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis, said the study authors.
However, the researchers stress that the effect of higher doses of alcohol on the risk of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown.
As part of the study, detailed information about alcohol consumption, diet, smoking history, physical activity and education level was collected from the women in both 1987 and in 1997.
The women were followed up for seven years, during which time 197 new cases of rheumatoid arthritis were reported.
The rate of rheumatoid arthritis was less in women who drank more than four glasses of alcohol a week than in women who drank less than one glass a week.
One standard glass of alcohol was defined as about 500ml of beer, 150ml of wine or 50ml of liquor.
The reduced risk was similar for all three types of alcoholic drink.
The researchers suggest that the alcohol's ability to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis is most likely due to its tendency to lower the body's immune response.
This is relevant because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease - it causes the immune system, which usually fights infection, to attack the cells that line the joints.
The research was published online in the British Medical Journal.
Visit our Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinic for more information.
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