(NaturalNews) Regular alcohol consumption may reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Sheffield, England.
"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 drank it infrequently," lead author James Maxwell said.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most severe form of inflammatory joint disease, and can lead to severe disability.
"The body's immune system acts against and damages the surrounding soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments) of joints and eventually damages the joints themselves," writes Tom Bohager in the book Everything You Need to Know About Enzymes to Treat Everything from Digestive Problems and Allergies to Migraines and Arthritis.
"As a result, the joints in the hands, feet, and/or arms become extremely painful, stiff, and eventually deformed."
Researchers questioned 873 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 1,004 people who did not have the disease about their alcohol consumption in the month prior to the study. All participants then underwent X-ray and blood screening to determine the severity of inflammation in their bodies. Pain, swelling and disability were also measured.
The researchers found that people who drank on more than 10 days per month were four times less likely to develop the condition than those who did not drink. Likewise, people with rheumatoid arthritis who drank more regularly suffered less inflammation, joint pain, swelling and disability than those who drank less often.
None of the study participants consumed more than the maximum recommended 10 drinks per week.
It remains unclear what role alcohol might play in preventing or alleviating the disease.
"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," Maxwell said. "Once someone has developed [rheumatoid arthritis], it's possible that the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of alcohol may play a role in reducing the severity of symptoms."