Drink up – al­co­hol cuts arthri­tis risk, study finds

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION -

LONDON — Reg­u­lar al­co­hol con­sump­tion pro­vided pro­tec­tion against rheuma­toid arthri­tis and its painful ef­fects, Bri­tish re­searchers found in the first study to show the link in hu­mans.

Non­drinkers were four times as likely to de­velop rheuma­toid arthri­tis than peo­ple who drank al­co­hol on more than 10 days a month, ac­cord­ing to the re­search pub­lished on­line Wed­nes­day by the jour­nal Rheuma­tol­ogy.

Arthri­tis pa­tients who drank reg­u­larly had less se­vere symp­toms than non­drinkers, the study found.

There is no known cause or cure for rheuma­toid arthri­tis, the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Health and Clin­i­cal Ex­cel­lence said. The dis­ease oc­curs when the im­mune sys­tem attacks the joints, caus­ing pain and swelling and po­ten­tially lead­ing to se­vere dis­abil­ity and early death. Al­co­hol blunts the ac­tiv­ity of the im­mune sys­tem, and more re­search is needed to de­ter­mine how that process works, the re­searchers said.

“We know that al­co­hol re­duces im­mune ac­tiv­ity at least to some ex­tent, and sus­pect that this is the main rea­son that al­co­hol con­sump­tion is as­so­ci­ated with a re­duc­tion in sever­ity” of rheuma­toid arthri­tis, James Maxwell, a rheuma­tol­o­gist at the Rother­ham Foun­da­tion NHS Trust and author of the study, said in an emailed state­ment. “Al­co­hol may also have a mild painkilling ef­fect.”

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