Boozing linked to reduced arthritis pain, severity

Today in “Midori sours are medicinal” news, the BBC is reporting that consumption of alcohol is linked with reduction of pain related to arthritis.

Yay! So that’s like, a green light to drink more! Says the BBC:

Experts say this should not be taken as a green light for drinking more.

Oh. The University of Sheffield study tracked 873 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and 1,004 who do not suffer from the chronic disease. Both sets were surveyed about frequency of alcohol consumption in the month before the study.

Participants were asked how often they had consumed alcohol in the month running up to the start of the study. They also had x-rays, gave blood, were examined by a nurse and answered a “detailed questionnaire.” At the close, lead author Dr. James Maxwell had this to say:

“We found that patients who had drunk alcohol most frequently had symptoms that were less severe than those who had never drunk alcohol or only drunk it infrequently.”

The harder drinking patients showed less joint damage on x-rays, lower levels of inflammation in blood tests, and suffered less pain, swelling and reduced function than their teetotaler counterparts. On the reasons behind the findings, Dr. Maxwell speculated:

“There is some evidence to show that alcohol suppresses the activity of the immune system, and that this may influence the pathways by which RA develops.

“Once someone has developed RA, it’s possible that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of alcohol may play a role in reducing the severity of symptoms,” he added.

Of course, further research is planned to replicate the study’s results and determine what factors led to the difference in the patient sets. No word on whether they plan to pay participants’ pub tabs.