Thursday, July 29, 2010
by Iona Craig
LONDON (Jul 29, 2010)
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 more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than people who drank alcohol on more than 10 days a month, according to the research published online this week by the journal Rheumatology. Arthritis patients who drank regularly had less severe symptoms than non-drinkers, the study found.
There is no known cause or cure for rheumatoid arthritis. The disease occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and swelling and potentially leading to severe disability and early death.
"Alcohol may also have a mild painkilling effect," said James Maxwell, a rheumatologist and author of the study. "X-rays showed there was less damage to joints, blood tests showed lower levels of inflammation and there was less joint pain, swelling and disability" among drinkers.
His report cited previous research using ethanol and mice, which pointed to testosterone as a potential link to the inflammation-fighting effects, as levels of the hormone rose in line with increased ethanol consumption. Ethanol is the intoxicating component of alcoholic beverages.
The findings supported Scandinavian research published in June 2008 showing that alcohol consumption reduced the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by 40 to 50 per cent.
More research is needed to determine how that process works, the researchers said.
from The Hamilton Spectator on Thursday, July 29, 2010