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RA Disease Activity and Alcohol Use

Jan 12, 2023 4:26 pm

Despite its well known toxicities, alcohol is known to be antiinflammatory. The effects of alcohol use in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is less known, but a recent study suggests that alcohol consumption was dose-dependently associated with lower disease activity and higher health-related quality of life in RA patients.

Data derived from the population-based case-control study EIRA (Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis) examined 1228 patients newly diagnosed RA, and compared outcomes according to whether they regularly consumed alcohol (drinkers) or not (non-drinkers). Drinkers were categorized as low or moderate consumption (52 gram/week among women and 112 gram/week among men).

At baseline, RA non-drinkers had higher disease activity and more severe pain compared to drinkers. Alcohol consumption significantly correlated with ACPA negativity (67% vs 79% in CCP+, p=0.002), and RF negativity (63% vs. 80% in CCP+, p=0.003).

At 1-year follow-up, non-drinkers had:

  • More swollen joints (6.6 vs 3.9)
  • More tender joint  (7.7 vs 5.4)
  • More pain (31 vs 20; out of 100)
  • More fatigue, lower global health, and lower health-related quality of life.

Those who stopped drinking post-baseline had increases in disease activity, pain and worse health-related quality of life at 1-year follow-up.

Alcohol consumption by RA patients should be judged in the context of these benefits against any potential hazards. 


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The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject