Wine drinkers continue to have an advantage over non-drinkers, in terms of the health benefits that can be derived from at least a glass or two of wine daily. Several researches have suggested that moderate consumption of alcohol can lower the risk of heart disease and strokes. People who drink alcohol in moderation usually have higher HDL or good cholesterol and reduced blood clotting, which can also result to lowered risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. Recently, regular moderate consumption of alcohol is also being linked to lowering the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and other degenerative joint and muscle diseases.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects millions of people worldwide, with about three times more women suffering from the disease than men. Its symptoms include chronic pain in the joints and connective tissues which usually occur with people between the ages of 40 and 50.
A recent research study conducted in Sweden tried to establish the relationship between responsible consumption of alcohol, particularly wine and the reduction of risks of rheumatoid arthritis. Lifestyle patterns of the respondents were studied for almost 10 years. Subjects were classified into their alcohol intake frequency, from rare to excessive drinking, taking into consideration other risk factors as well such as genetics and smoking.
Generally speaking, an average drinker in Sweden consumes about one glass of alcohol daily. In the study, people who regularly consumed about five or more glasses of alcohol weekly showed less risks of acquiring rheumatoid arthritis, about 40 to 50 percent lower than those who rarely drank alcohol. Those who showed the greatest risk were smokers and those who tested positive for the genetic risk factor.
The study, however, may be considered flawed by other researchers, because it is quite impossible to empirically determine which one contributes more to the increased risk of arthritis – the genetic factor or the smoking. Thus, although the research presents some insights on the health benefits of wine to the body, more studies are needed for isolating wine as the only factor that can lower the risk of developing arthritis, and not other lifestyle factors.
Today, there are various treatments given to patients with rheumatoid arthritis, such as anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. It is quite premature to advise increasing alcohol intake on the premise that it can reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. It is best to interpret findings with caution, and consider also the implications of drinking alcohol on other medical conditions.