According to BBC News, a 2009 study in Sweden found evidence that consumption of alcohol may prevent arthritis. Researchers discovered that mice with a supply of water which included 10% alcohol content had reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the team indicated that it was not possible to translate the findings into a guess as to whether or not the same results would be present in human subjects.
“Studies in humans have not shown any relationship either protective or in terms of increased risk between alcohol intake and rheumatoid arthritis,” explained Professor Alan Silman of the Arthritis Research Campaign.
The study was performed by a team of researchers at Gothenburg University, who injected the mice with collagen to induce rheumatoid arthritis. The mice were then given a steady supply of untreated water or a mixture of water and 10% alcohol-a small enough amount to not be toxic to the mice-for a period of six to eight weeks. The mice with the alcohol and water mixture were found to develop rheumatoid arthritis significantly slower than the mice with a supply of untreated water.
“The mice were given a dose of 10% of alcohol in their water, but we don’t know if it would be the same for humans. It would probably be lower,” BBC reported Professor Andrzej Tarkowski as explaining. Tarkowski led the research time at Gothenburg University. “We can’t translate these results to find out the therapeutic dose in humans.” The research team also discovered that acetaldehyde, which is produced when the body processes alcohol, provides similar protective benefits against RA.
A Dutch study presented to the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) in June of 2010 reported similar findings. Researchers discovered that alcohol consumption was linked to a decreased of risk of developing a variety of arthritic conditions, including rheumatoid, osteoarthritis and psoriatic arthritis, in test subjects. Additionally, the study found evidence that patients with a higher consumption of alcohol had a decreased occurrence of system inflammation. This could indicate that alcohol in the body reduces the risk of such diseases, or that patients with the disease have lifestyles with less alcohol consumption; results were unclear as to which was likely the case.
“We know from previous research that alcohol consumption may confer a protective effect against developing RA, our data have shown that this effect may apply to other arthritic conditions too,” explained Dr. Annekoos Leonoor Huidekopoer, lead author of the study, according to Science Daily.
Professor Paul Emery, the president of EULAR, cautions that these findings should be interpreted with caution: “Alcohol should be consumed in moderation, with consideration for local public health recommendations. A number of social and medical problems are associated with increased consumption of alcohol.” Unfortunately, as researchers continue to caution consumers that the data collected is not a free pass to prevent arthritis with copious amounts of alcohol; the findings cannot be the new excuse of choice to indulge beyond moderation.
BBC News, “Alcohol ‘may prevent arthritis”
Science Daily, “Alcohol Consumption Lowers Risk of Developing Several Arthritic Conditions, Study Finds”