Drinking Alcohol May Reduce Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis

Consuming three drinks of alcohol per week appears to be protective against rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ten drinks a week appears to provide even more protection against the disease, according to scientific research presented at the Annual European Congress on Rheumatology in Barcelona, Spain.

The research team at the Karolinska Instituet in Stockholm, Sweden, conduced a population-based case-control study of incident cases of rheumatoid arthritis (using American College of Rheumatology diagnostic criteria)  among persons aged 18-70 years in a defined area of Sweden. Cases and randomly-selected controls completed an extensive questionnaire regarding lifestyle factors, including alcohol consumption and smoking behaviors. DNA from cases and controls was examined to determine the presence of HLA-DRB1 SE alleles (a marker indicating genetic risk factor for RA) and all cases were classified  by presence of anti-CCP2 antibodies (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies) to identify subtypes of rheumatoid arthritis. Analysis included making adjustments for possible confounders.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that is characterized primarily by inflammation of the lining of the joints. It can lead to long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain, loss of function and disability. Cause of the disease, which effects millions of people around the world, is unknown.



  • Turesson, Carl. Increased Alcohol Intake Associated with Decreased Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. (Abstract) Paper presented at the annual European Congress of Rheumatology. Barcelona, Spain. June 13-16, 2007. European League Against Rheumatism, June 15, 2007.

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