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)
International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research
Examining risks and benefits of alcohol consumption
Boston University Medical Center