Arthritis presents in two basic categories: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. Osteoarthritis, the more common type, results from wear-and-tear of the joint cartilages over years of use—a consequence of aging. Rheumatoid arthritis, less common, is not a wear-and-tear phenomenon, but an “auto-immune” disease. Here, the body’s immune system malfunctions, and attacks the tissues and fluids of the joints themselves, leading to chronic inflammation and pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is typically the more severe type, and strikes women about 3 times more frequently then men. Sometimes it results from defective genes (hereditary), but often not. Scientists are looking for ways to prevent RA and today we present one possibility for you to consider.
There have been a number of studies that have shown that women who drink a moderate amount of alcohol seem to develop RA less frequently, but a study was just published from Sweden, that examined a larger group of women (66,651 subjects) seems more definitive. This study was particularly well designed, and the researchers took great care to cancel out other factors that might have influenced the outcome such as cigarette use, weight, hereditary, and so forth.
Their conclusion was that women who drank three or more standard sized doses of alcohol were 52% less likely to develop RA, compared to women who didn’t drink alcohol. It didn’t matter whether the alcohol was from beer, wine, or liquor. The authors did not define an ideal amount of alcohol as a preventative, but 3 or 4 doses a week was sufficient, and of course, more than one or two drinks per day is harmful in other ways, so the best advice is moderation.
You might be wondering why alcohol would have a preventative effect for arthritis. It is known that alcohol, again in moderation, acts as an anti-inflammatory in humans: it decreases the production of substances, known as cytokines, that are precursors for inflammation and swelling. Alcohol acts in a similar way on the heart, as moderate drinkers also suffer less cardiovascular disease.
If you want to decrease your chances of developing RA but don’t like the idea of drinking alcohol, other measures you can take are: totally avoid cigarette smoke, make sure you are getting adequate Vitamin D, and eat omega-3 rich fish (salmon, for example) several times a week. An alternative would be omega-3 supplements.
The specialist who specifically works with arthritis is a rheumatologist, and if you need to find one, it’s easy to do on our main site: www.procuramed.com.
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)