A new lifestyle study has shown that drinking alcohol can cut the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be up to half.
The Scandinavian research also showed that the more alcohol that was consumed, the lower the risk of developing the disease.
More than 2,750 participants were quizzed about their lifestyle, including how much they smoked and drank, while blood samples were taken to check for genetic risk factors.
Among those who drank regularly, the quarter with the highest consumption were found to be up to 50% less likely to develop the disease compared with the half who drank the least.
The study also found that among those with antibodies to a specific group of proteins involved in the development of the disease, alcohol cut the risk most in smokers with genetic risk factors for RA. Smoking is known to be a major environmental risk factor, and this risk is further increased in those who carry these genetic variants.
"This highlights the potential role of lifestyle in determining the risk of developing RA, and emphasises the advice to stop smoking, but not necessarily to abstain from alcohol in order to diminish risk of RA," the study's authors wrote in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
"No we should not encourage patients to consumme alcohol as a preventive measure, but if patients drink sensibilly with a healthy diet they can be reassured. Myself having a strong family history of RA will enjoy the odd glass of red without feeling guily, cheers!" - Caroline Stephens