Monday, November 22, 2010

Alcohol and Arthritis- Cheers!

Okay, after a week of discouraging one habit, I thought I'd start of Thanksgiving week with an interesting study about alcohol. As opposed to nicotine, which we know is NEVER beneficial, there is absolutely medical evidence that small amounts of alcohol can be beneficial for different aspects of our health. Now, the key words here are SMALL AMOUNT and BENEFICIAL. When we pour our own glass of wine, for example, chances are that it may not be that small 4oz glass that doctors recommend...
The new study I'd like to mention today is from the journal Rheumatology, and is entitled "Alcohol consumption is inversely associated with risk and severity of rheumatoid arthritis."There were around 900 patients with rheumatic arthritis (RA) in the study, along with around 1000 people without RA. Basically, with trying to account for other variables such as gender and age, those patients with RA who consumed more alcohol reported less severe symptoms of their arthritis.
Why is this? We're not sure, but possibly because of the role that alcohol plays in suppressing the immune system (and RA is basically a result of the body's immune system over-reacting.) Evidence already supports that small amounts of alcohol decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes via similar anti-inflammatory and anti-blood clotting effects.
Keep in mind that this study is not suggesting people with RA need to drink heavily, but simply that patients who report drinking alcohol fewer than 10 days per month reported more pain.
BOTTOM LINE We can now add reduction in the severity of rheumatic arthritis to the list of potential benefits of consuming SMALL amounts of alcohol.

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