A study found a 31% reduced risk of developing seropositive rheumatoid arthritis in women who drank beer 2 to 4 times a week compared to women who never drank beer, an association that did not hold for wine or liquor.
To evaluate the association of alcohol consumption with risk of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers studied women in the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II. Alcohol consumption was assessed with a food frequency questionnaire completed every 4 years. Cases were identified using a screening questionnaire followed by medical record review to ensure cases met the American College of Rheumatology criteria. The cohort totaled 1.90 million people-years from 1980 to 2008.
Results appeared at Arthritis & Rheumatology.
Compared to no use, the pooled multivariable adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of rheumatoid arthritis among women who drank of 5.0 to 9.9 grams/day (g/d), or 3 to 5 drinks per week, was 0.78 (95% CI, 0.61 to 1.00), and appeared stronger for seropositive rheumatoid arthritis cases (HR=0.69; 95% CI, 0.50 to 0.95). In contrast, wine or liquor consumption of 2-4 drinks a week was associated with a non-significant reduced risk of RA after controlling for the other 2 alcoholic beverages and potential other lifestyle factors in both cohorts.
Alcohol may reduce inflammation and inflammatory pathways, the researchers noted, and a lagged analysis of the data showed the cumulative effect of long-term, moderate alcohol exposure, may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to short-term alcohol consumption.