People who abstain from alcohol are at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who drink regularly, and drinkers with arthritis report less-severe symptoms than non-drinkers, a new study finds.
Bloomberg reported July 28 that the study from the U.K. was the first to demonstrate a protective effect for alcohol against arthritis in humans. Study author James Maxwell of the Rotherham Foundation NHS Trust and colleagues found that non-drinkers had a fourfold risk of rheumatoid arthritis compared to individuals who drank alcohol on more than 10 days per month.
“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 RA,” said Maxwell. “Alcohol may also have a mild pain-killing effect.”
The study was published in the journal Rheumatology.