Good news for drinkers. Moderate consumption of alcohol has been associated with a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
According to a study published on bmj.com, women who regularly consumed more than three alcoholic drinks a week for at least 10 years had a 52% reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared with non-drinkers.
These findings add to a growing body of evidence that long term moderate alcohol consumption is not harmful and may protect against a chronic disease like rheumatoid arthritis, say the study's authors in a statement.
After adjusting for factors such as age, smoking and dietary habits, women who reported drinking more than three glasses of alcohol per week in both 1987 and 1997 had a 52% reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis compared with never drinkers at both assessments.
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However, they stress that the effect of higher doses of alcohol on the risk of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disorder that usually develops between the ages of 40 and 50.
According to Arthritis Research UK, rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis in the UK and the most common inflammatory joint disorder. It causes joint pain and swelling, stiffness and fatigue - and is three times more common in women than men.