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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Thursday, 29 July 2010 15:03

Arthritis Pain Reduces with Alcohol

Bollywood often uses booze drinking by protagonists to highlight reduction of sorrow and pain, especially due to the love lost, but a new study published online in the journal Rheumatology on Wednesday claims that drinking alcohol may not only reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis but also the risk of developing the disease.

The study looked at 873 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and compared them with a control group of 1004 people without RA (the control group).  The researchers asked the two groups how frequently they had drunk alcohol in the month preceding their inclusion in the study. The participants completed a detailed questionnaire, had x-rays and blood tests, and an experienced research nurse examined their joints.

The first author of the study, Dr James Maxwell, said: “We found that patients who had drunk alcohol most frequently had symptoms that were less severe than those who had never drunk alcohol or only drunk it infrequently. 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. This is the first time that a dose dependent inverse association between frequency of alcohol consumption and severity of RA has been shown in humans.”

Maxwell and his colleagues also found that non-drinkers were four times more likely to develop RA than people who drank alcohol on more than ten days a month.

“This finding agrees with the results from previous studies that have shown a decreased susceptibility to developing RA among alcohol drinkers,” said Maxwell.

But this type of study can't show cause and effect, so we can't be certain that drinking alcohol was what lowered people's risk of RA or the severity of their illness. It also has a few other limitations: The researchers relied on participants to remember how often they'd consumed alcohol over the past month. This isn't a very reliable approach, as people's memories can be faulty. The study didn't explore what types of alcohol people drank or how much. These factors could be important. Some people say that certain drinks, such as red wine, make their arthritis worse. All the people in the study were white. So we can't be certain that these findings apply to other ethnic groups.

The study does not clarify whether the results were same for those drinking only alcohol. Also, the researchers did not find the co-relationship when the group was drinking only wine. It also seems to be quiet on the amount of alcohol imbibed at the higher end of consumption and what were the results obtained whether there was any co-relationship with high amounts of alcohol .

The authors did appear encouraged however and concluded that ‘while there are a number of limitations to the methodology of this study, the results do suggest that the consumption of alcohol may modify RA, influencing both risk and severity.’

The study was conducted by researchers with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It was funded by a grant from the Arthritis Research Campaign. The journal is owned by the British Society for Rheumatology.

Though the study was done on mice earlier, it is the first study in humans to explore whether drinking alcohol might lessen the severity of RA, and its results are promising. However, it's too soon to recommend alcohol as a treatment if you have RA. Many questions need to be answered, including what types of alcohol might be most beneficial and how much people should drink. Unfortunately, the study has not differentiated between wine and other alcohols.

Moreover, it has not studied the effects with higher levels of alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can be harmful, potentially leading to liver damage and high blood pressure, among other problems. You should be cautious of drinking alcohol if you take methotrexate one more time!!!.


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