A follow-up study of more than 34,000 women in Sweden has shown that moderate drinkers, in comparison with abstainers, were at significantly lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an often serious and disabling type of arthritis. RA is known to relate to inflammation, and it is thought that this inflammation is blocked to some degree by the consumption of alcohol. In this study, women who consumed at least 4 drinks per week (with a drink being defined as containing 15 grams of alcohol) had 37% lower risk of developing RA than subjects reporting never drinking or consuming less than 1 drink/week.
This large study is important as few prospective studies are of adequate size to have sufficient cases of RA to evaluate factors related to its development. The study supports previous research showing a lower risk of developing RA, or milder severity of the disease, among moderate drinkers than among abstainers.
Reference: Di Giuseppe D, Alfredsson L, Bottai M, Askling J, Wolk A. Long term alcohol intake and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women: a population based cohort study. BMJ 2012;345:e4230 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e4230 (Published 10 July 2012)
Comments in this critique by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research were provided by the following members:
Fulvio Ursini, MD, Dept. of Biological Chemistry, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Erik Skovenborg, MD, Scandinavian Medical Alcohol Board, Practitioner, Aarhus, Denmark
Yuqing Zhang, MD, DSc, Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Harvey Finkel, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
Arne Svilaas, MD, PhD, general practice and lipidology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
R. Curtis Ellison, MD, Section of Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Creina Stockley, MSc, MBA, Clinical Pharmacology, AWRI, Glen Osmond, South Australia, Australia
David Van Velden, MD, Dept. of Pathology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Giovanni de Gaetano, MD, PhD, Research Laboratories, Catholic University, Campobasso, Italy
For the detailed critique of this paper by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research and a listing of references , go to www.bu.edu/alcohol-forum, click on Recent Reports, and select Critique 084 – 17 July 2012.
The specialists who are members of the Forum are happy to respond to questions from Health Editors regarding emerging research on alcohol and health and will offer an independent opinion in context with other research on the subject
International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research
Examining risks and benefits of alcohol consumption
Critique 084: Study suggests Moderate drinking lowers risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women -- 17 July 2012
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