A team of researchers has analysed the association between alcohol intake and incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in women.
The prospective study has used data from The Swedish Mammography Cohort, a population based cohort from central Sweden.
A total of 34,141 women born between 1914 and 1948, followed-up in the period 2003-2009.
The main outcome was newly diagnosed cases of rheumatoid arthritis identified by linkage with two Swedish national registers.
Data on alcohol consumption were collected in 1987 and 1997.
During the follow-up period ( 226,032 person years ), 197 incident cases of rheumatoid arthritis were identified.
There was a statistically significant 37% decrease in risk of rheumatoid arthritis among women who drank greater than 4 glasses of alcohol ( 1 glass = 15 g of Ethanol ) per week compared with women who drank less than 1 glass per week or who never drank alcohol ( relative risk, RR=0.63; P=0.04 ).
Drinking of all types of alcohol ( beer, wine, and liquor ) was non-significantly inversely associated with the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Analysis of long term alcohol consumption showed that women who reported drinking greater than 3 glasses of alcohol per week in both 1987 and 1997 had a 52% decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis compared with those who never drank (RR=0.48 ).
In conclusion, moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis. ( Xagena )
Di Giuseppe D et al, BMJ 2012;345:e4230