Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages seems to reduce risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women

Women who moderately consume alcoholic beverages seem to have a lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and an improved functional health status. Rheumatoid arthritisRheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammatory arthritis leading to ... (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic, inflammatory arthritis leading to progressive joint and organ system damage and increasing disability. The rate is three times higher in women than in men. Both genetic and environmental factors (such as smoking, hormone use) seem to play a role in the risk of developing RA. The famous Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Nurses’ Health Study II (both enrolling more than 250,000 female nurses since 1976), which are carried out by the Harvard Medical School in Boston, provided a comprehensive assessment of the association between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Lifestyle and environmental exposures had been collected through biennial questionnaires. The consumption of alcoholic beverages was assessed every 4 years with a food frequency questionnaire. The results of this large prospective study showed a modest association between long-term moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages over multiple decades and the reduced risk of RA. Compared to women who did not drink any alcohol, those who consumed up to 10 g/d (equivalent to approx. 3-5 drinks per week) had a 22% significantly reduced risk of RA. For sero-positive RA cases, the association appeared stronger with a risk reduction of 31%.

Lu B, Solomon DH, Costenbader KH, Karlson EW. Alcohol consumption and risk of incident rheumatoid arthritis in women: A prospective study. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2014 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print]

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.

Influence of lifestyle factors on the risk of RA

In another prospective study, the influence of lifestyle factors such as smoking and the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages on RA was examined.

Both genetic and environmental factors seem to play a role in the risk of developing RA. It has been reported that smoking is the strongest environmental risk factor for RA and is associated with increased disease activity. However, the association between smoking, consumption of alcoholic beverages and subsequent disease activity (such as swollen and tender joints), functional health status in patients with RA as well as the role of genetic factors is not very well understood and was evaluated in the current study. For this purpose, 662 patients with RA were followed up to 7 years. The results indicated that current smoking may be associated with a worse functional health status in RA. Moderate intake of alcoholic beverages may be associated with a better functional health status than avoidance of alcoholic beverages. The authors concluded that the results need to be confirmed with a larger prospective study.

Lu B, Rho YH, Cui J, Iannacconne CK, Frits ML, Karlson EW, Shadick NA, Associations of smoking and alcohol consumption with disease activity and functional status in rheumatoid Arthritis, J Rheumatology2014,41,1,doi:10.3899/jrheum.130074

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.