Arthritis: the surprising protective effect of a moderate amount of red wine in women

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by the progressive destruction of cartilage and bone in the joints. According to a study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, women who drink alcohol moderately have a lower risk of being affected by this painful disease. The incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is three times higher in women than in men.

Unlike osteoarthritis, which is a “wear and tear” disease, rheumatoid arthritis often develops early, around the age of 40 or 50 (and sometimes even much earlier) and is caused by a disorder of the immune system: instead of just defending the body from foreign bodies that enter the body, inflammatory cells also attack the components of the joints, which causes intense pain and leads to deformation over time and even sometimes to destruction of the affected joints.

The causes responsible for the development of rheumatoid arthritis remain poorly understood. Genetic factors, transmitted by heredity, account for about half of the cases observed, while the other half would rather be a consequence of certain lifestyle factors.

Given the heavy burden imposed by this disease, identifying lifestyle habits that could reduce the development of arthritis is of great importance.

Protection against rheumatoid arthritis

Since alcohol is known to reduce the body’s immune response, a team of Swedish researchers wondered if this immunosuppressive effect could help reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. This is indeed the case: by analyzing the medical records of nearly 35,000 women born between 1914 and 1948, they observed that those who had consumed small amounts of alcohol over the years had a lower risk of developing this form of alcohol. arthritis than those who never drank. The results indicate that women who drank three glasses of alcoholic beverages per week saw their risk of arthritis decrease by a dramatic 52%, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed (beer, wine, spirits).

Warning; beyond the limit it is catastrophic

Although interesting, these results should not make us forget that alcohol is a substance that causes multiple effects on health, both positive and negative. On the one hand, high doses of alcohol have long been recognized to considerably increase, especially in combination with smoking, the risk of several types of cancer, in particular those of the mouth, esophagus, liver and more weakly breast.

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In addition, it has been clearly demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption can, on the contrary, be beneficial to health. For example, many studies indicate that people who drink moderately (1-2 glasses a day for men and 1 glass for women) have about 30% less risk of developing cardiovascular disease, one of the main causes of death in West.

Red wine and in moderation

The positive effect of alcohol is especially pronounced for people who primarily drink red wine, as this brew contains several phytochemicals with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activities that are beneficial to health. Red wine is truly in a class of its own, for its properties. During this Easter holiday season, it is useful to remember that alcohol is a double-edged sword that must be used intelligently. In light of the results accumulated in recent years for all chronic diseases, moderate consumption of red wine is the best way to celebrate while taking care of your health.


Di Giuseppe et al. Long term alcohol intake and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women: a population based cohort study. BMJ 345: e4230.


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