Why Moderate Drinking May Defend Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
It seems counter-intuitive that drinking regular, moderate amounts of alcohol would lessen the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), because the disease attacks the immune system and alcohol weakens the immune system... But first, the study...
Swedish researchers examined the medical records of 34,141 Swedish women born between 1914 and 1948. In 1987, all participants were surveyed about their alcohol consumption, diet, smoking history, physical activity and education level. They conducted the same survey again 10 years later.
Between 2003 and 2009, 197 new cases of RA were discovered among the participants. After adjusting for other variables, the findings were that women who consumed 3 or more drinks per week of a defined quantity of beer, wine, or liquor, were 52 percent less likely to acquire RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the body's immune cells actually attack healthy cells in the body, particularly those in soft tissue, such as muscles and joints. The onset of the disease is generally between 30 and 50 years of age and primarily in women (3 to 1 incidence women to men). There are several treatments for RA, and in some cases, it can go into remission, but the disease can also be totally debilitating.
The Swedish study, published in the British Medical Journal, proposes that regular alcohol intake, although it does reduce the effectiveness of the body's immune system to fight disease, coincidentally reduces the ability of the same immune cells to destroy healthy cells, as they do in RA. The logic is a bit convoluted, but it's a theory that does make sense.
sources: Medical News Today, British Medical Journal