Cheers to a Decreased Risk of Arthritis

Preliminary findings presented at annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism suggest that drinking alcohol may reduce the risk of developing several types of arthritis. The results of this study need to be interpreted with caution, however, since no cause and effect relationship was confirmed.

The case-control study evaluated the alcohol consumption habits of 997 newly-diagnosed arthritis patients and 6874 healthy controls recruited from a study examining venous thromboembolic disease. Overall, the arthritis patients exhibited approximately 70% less alcohol consumption than the controls. Between 53% and 68% of patients reported drinking alcohol, depending on the type of arthritis, while 83% of controls drank alcohol. This study included several types of arthritis — rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and spondyloarthropathy — and the association with alcohol consumption was consistent after adjustment for age, gender, body mass index, and smoking status.

Several previous studies have correlated alcohol consumption with a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, but this new study is the first to link alcohol to other arthritic conditions. Although other research has reported a dose-response relationship between alcohol and rheumatoid arthritis, the new findings do not show the same relationship. Among these subjects, no correlation was seen between the amount or type of alcohol consumed and the development of arthritis.

Alcohol consumption has also been found to decrease the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and is associated with a negative occurrence of extraarticular manifestations of arthritis, including serositis, vasculitis, neuropathy, ocular lesions, pulmonary fibrosis, and rheumatoid nodules. Researchers hypothesize that alcohol may have a protective effect against inflammation, but alcohol consumption may also be a marker for being in good health. In effect, decreased alcohol use may be the result of, and not the cause of, the arthritis; people who do not feel well due to arthritis may not be as socially active or interested in consuming alcohol, or arthritis medications may prevent them from drinking.

But, don’t order another round just yet. The data is preliminary and no cause-and-effect was proved. Plus, the authors and other clinicians warn against encouraging drinking alcohol in an effort to decrease the development of arthritis. There are significant medical and social consequences to alcohol consumption, and any benefit in inflammatory conditions needs to be researched and considered carefully. The authors hope to expand these findings to other inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, to confirm the anti-inflammatory effect of alcohol.


Källberg H, Jacobsen S, Bengtsson C, Pedersen M, Padyukov L, Garred P, Frisch M, Karlson EW, Klareskog L, & Alfredsson L (2009). Alcohol consumption is associated with decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis: results from two Scandinavian case-control studies. Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 68 (2), 222-7 PMID: 18535114

Kim SK, Park SH, Shin IH, & Choe JY (2008). Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, smoking, alcohol consumption, and disease duration as risk factors for extraarticular manifestations in Korean patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The Journal of rheumatology, 35 (6), 995-1001 PMID: 18464311

Nissen MJ, Gabay C, Scherer A, Finckh A, & Swiss Clinical Quality Management Project in Rheumatoid Arthritis (2010). The effect of alcohol on radiographic progression in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis and rheumatism, 62 (5), 1265-72 PMID: 20213811

Rajakulendran S, Gadsby K, & Deighton C (2008). Rheumatoid arthritis, alcohol, leflunomide and methotrexate. Can changes to the BSR guidelines for leflunomide and methotrexate on alcohol consumption be justified? Musculoskeletal care, 6 (4), 233-45 PMID: 18702106

Huidekoper AL. Abstract No. AB0179. Paper presented at: Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism; June 16, 2010; Rome, Italy.

  • rohit kumar

    all respected doctors can i ask one question pls ?
    if patient have severe pain during movement but not in resting stage
    so what amount of alcohal should be consumed and which type means variety of alcohol………………..
    but its an good findings for treat arthritis …………
    a lot of thanks to hear me !!!!!!!!

    rohit kumar
    mbbs student
    bvp pune india

  • NosmoKING

    Should we still have to take alcohol just to decrease the risk of having an Arthritis? I think there are still other ways of how we can decrease the risk of having arthritis such as maintaining a balance weight for the appropriate age by this we can lessen the weight borne by our joint in the hips and knee. Another one is for people at the age of 45 who are prone to osteoarthritis and by keeping their body fit and active they can strengthen their muscles around the joint. There are many ways to keep our joints and muscle strong to reduce risk for Arthritis and we don’t have to take alcohol as an alternative remedy to reduce this risk. Also alcohol can lead to cardiovascular disease, malabsorption, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease and cancer. Damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can occur from sustained alcohol consumption. Much more than Arthritis is what we can get from alcohol, just stay fit and active for a healthy body.

  • Very good post..

    This information very use full for drinkers.

    Thanks for the sharing….

  • donna mae llagas


    thanks fot that info. . . .’coz it had helped me a lot for doing my assignment. . . .thanks once again…mmf’ i’m looking for more breakthroughs like this.!

  • Arthritis is really very disturbing effect to be tolerated by the body so if some thing like this can reduce the decrease the risk to whosoever is prone then it is really and advantages option.

Jennifer Gibson, PharmD

Jennifer Gibson, PharmD, is a practicing clinical pharmacist and medical writer/editor with experience in researching and preparing scientific publications, developing public relations materials, creating educational resources and presentations, and editing technical manuscripts. She is the owner of Excalibur Scientific, LLC.

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