Booze may have some positive effects as well, for researchers have found that alcohol might protect against rheumatoid arthritis.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers including Henrik Kallberg at EIRA, Stockholm, Sweden.
As part of the study, researchers conducted a population-based case-control study of incident cases of RA among those aged 18-70 years in a defined area of Sweden.
The researchers completed an extensive questionnaire regarding lifestyle factors, including alcohol consumption and smoking habits in cases and randomly selected controls.
The study examined DNA from 1,204 cases and 871 controls to detect the presence of HLA-DRB1 SE alleles, a marker indicating genetic risk factor for RA, and all cases were classified by presence of anti-CCP2 antibodies (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies) to identify RA subtypes.
Researchers calculated gender-specific odds ratios for anti-CCP positive RA with 95% confidence intervals for subjects with different consumptions of alcohol, smoking and HLA-DRB1 SE alleles, compared with subjects less exposed to alcohol (0-3 units per week), using logistic regression models with adjustments made for possible confounders.
The study found that three units of alcohol a week exhibited protective effects and ten units a week were more protective still. An alcohol consumption of three units per week or more was found to reduce the risk by smoking or by a genetic predisposition to RA.
"Several previous studies have indicated a suppression of the immune system by alcohol and a recent study showed that it prevented development of destructive arthritis. However, until now, epidemiological investigations on the effects of alcohol on RA were scarce and inconsistent. These data now show not only that alcohol can protect against RA and reduce the risk conferred by smoking or susceptible genes, but also gives an idea of the relevant alcohol doses necessary," Kallberg said.
The findings of the study were presented at EULAR 2007, the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Barcelona, Spain.