Regular Alcohol Use Leads to Faster Rate of RA Joint Damage

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OMAHA, NE — A dose-dependent relationship exists between alcohol use and radiographic disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study led by researchers from the Omaha, NE, VAMC and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The research, which sought to investigate the associations of alcohol consumption and radiographic disease progression in African-Americans with recently diagnosed RA, found that patients who consume 15 or more alcoholic beverages per month may have faster rates of joint damage over a one- to three-year period than those with lower levels of consumption.

The study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology, looked at participants in the Consortium for the Longitudinal Evaluation of African-Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (CLEAR) registry. Patients were categorized based on self-reported alcohol consumption: those consuming <15 beverages per month vs. those consuming ≥15 per month.

Of the 166 patients included in the study, 39% reported that they had never consumed alcohol. Of the 61% who had consumed alcohol, 73% reported that they consumed on average <15 alcoholic beverages per month, and 27% reported consuming ≥15 per month.

In multivariate analysis, consumption of more than 15 alcoholic beverages per month was associated with an increased risk of radiographic disease progression (p = 0.017).

No increased disease progression was indicated for patients consuming fewer than 15 alcoholic beverages a month.

  1. Davis ML, Michaud K, Sayles H, Conn DL, Moreland LW, Bridges SL Jr, Mikuls TR. Associations of Alcohol Use with Radiographic Disease Progression in African-Americans with Recent-Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis. J Rheumatol. 2013 Jun 15. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 23772080.

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