Analysis

International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research Critique 126: Moderate Alcohol Intake may Lower the Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Moderate alcohol intake, compared with abstinence, has been related to lower inflammatory markers and a reduced risk of many auto-immune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmure diabetes, and Graves hyperthyroidism.

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A recent large meta-analysis relating alcohol to RA includes data from five prospective cohort studies and three nested case-control studies. Their analyses are based on prospective data from a total of almost 200,000 subjects, among whom 1,878 developed RA.

This meta-analysis concludes that low to moderate alcohol consumption is inversely associated with the development of RA. It suggests a “J-shaped” curve, with a lowered risk for an average intake of up to 15g of alcohol (about 1 to 1.5 typical drinks), in comparison with non-drinkers, and an increased risk for heavier drinking.

While the immediate effects were greater for women in this study, for long-term effects the authors noted: “Regardless of sex, a consistent low to moderate alcohol consumption for a period of at least ten years was found to have a 17% reduction in RA risk.”

Beneficial effects of alcohol on indices of inflammation have been shown repeatedly. The probable mechanism of alcohol’s effect on the risk of RA is down regulation of the immune response and a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines.

To read the full critique, click here.

These critiques are published with the permission of The ISFAR.


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