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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Sep;52(9):1701-7. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket212. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Patients with early arthritis consume less alcohol than controls, regardless of the type of arthritis.

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  • 1Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.



There are conflicting reports concerning the association between alcohol consumption and RA. We performed a case-control study to investigate the association of alcohol consumption with RA as well as with other forms of arthritis. To assess whether alcohol consumption affects long-term disease outcome, we also investigated its association with radiographic progression and sustained drug-free remission in RA.


Patients with arthritis and various diagnoses including RA, OA, ReA, SpA and PsA were compared with 5868 controls from the general population. The association of disease with alcohol consumption was analysed by logistic regression analysis.


Alcohol consumption was inversely associated with not only RA [odds ratio (OR) 0.28, 95% CI 0.23, 0.35] but also OA (OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.16, 0.62) and other forms of arthritis (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.24, 0.48). A higher degree of systemic inflammation, reflected by the ESR and CRP level, was associated with a smaller proportion of patients consuming alcohol. There was no dose-response relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the presence of arthritis. The extent of joint destruction and the rate of sustained drug-free remission were not affected by alcohol consumption.


Arthritis patients report less alcohol consumption than controls, regardless of the type of arthritis. This suggests that alcohol may either protect against different kinds of arthritis or that the inverse association between alcohol and arthritis may be secondary to disease development, with arthritis patients being less inclined to consume alcohol due to their decreased general well-being.


arthritis; epidemiology; inflammation; rheumatoid arthritis

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