Harvard Health Letter

Beer protects women from rheumatoid arthritis, suggest Harvard researchers

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We don't have a way yet to cure or prevent rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—the condition that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, leading to painful inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. But Harvard researchers say that drinking beer may offer protection against developing the condition. Their research, published online April 11, 2014, in Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that women who drank two to four beers per week had a 31% lower risk of developing RA compared to women who never drank. Moderate consumption of any type of alcohol was associated with a 21% lower risk. Women are much more likely than men to get RA, which usually develops between ages 30 and 60. Studies of this type cannot prove that drinking alcoholic beverages protects against getting RA, but they suggest it might. If you already have RA, don't drink alcohol without first talking to your doctor. Alcohol doesn't mix with certain RA drugs such as methotrexate (Rheumatrex).