Does Alcohol Consumption Influence Arthritis?

by: Mike Miller

Let’s face it, drinking alcohol is not good for you. Despite the rumors that red wine is good for the heart and a little booze may help ease other ailments, the fact remains that alcohol is a poison and the human body is better off without it.

Here is one area where alcohol could possibly be beneficial. A recent study showed, drinking more than three alcoholic beverages a week for at least 10 years may halve a woman's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. This as reports in US News.

There have been a number of studies recently, interestingly all from Europe, suggesting that moderate alcohol consumption may have health benefits.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body engages in friendly fire -- attacking its own joints and tissues. Currently, about 1.3 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, which disproportionately strikes women.

In addition to gender, genetics also is a risk factor for developing the condition. Other than quitting smoking, little is known about how to lower the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The Swedish Experiment

The new study included more than 34,000 Swedish women born between 1914 and 1948. Researchers gathered information about their alcohol consumption, diet, smoking history, physical activity and education in 1987 and 1997. Participants were then followed for seven years. During this time, nearly 200 women were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Women who reported drinking more than three glasses of alcohol per week in both 1987 and 1997 were 52 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than their teetotaling counterparts.

Exactly how alcohol may lower arthritis risk is not fully understood. The researchers speculate that it may turn down the body's immune system and decrease the production of proteins involved in the inflammatory process. Inflammation is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis.

While this may encourage some people to imbibe, keep in mind that alcohol is poisonous to the human body. The long-term negative effects of alcohol consumption will certainly out-weight any positive gain.