ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
CANCER
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
When the Caregiver Becomes the Patient
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Fasting on Alternate Days May Make Dieting Easier
Trans Fat Labeling Gets Tricky
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
EYE CARE, VISION
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Retail Clinics Attracting Those Without Regular Doctors
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Help Your Kids Stay Active
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Drink Away Dementia?
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Natural Therapies for Menopause
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Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk

THURSDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- People who drink alcohol regularly may cut their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a new study finds.

Alcohol has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and now this new study shows drinking may also reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50 percent. This finding underscores the importance of lifestyle factors in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, the study authors said.

"Moderate alcohol consumption is not deleterious and may in some contexts be beneficial concerning risk for future onset of rheumatoid arthritis," said lead researcher Henrik Kallberg, of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

"In addition, our paper underlines that smoking may trigger development of rheumatoid arthritis," Kallberg added.

The report was published in the June 4 online edition of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

For the research, Kallberg's team collected data on 2,750 men and women who took part in two studies of rheumatoid arthritis. Among these people, 1,650 had rheumatoid arthritis.

All the people in the study were asked about their lifestyles, including how much they smoked and drank. In addition, their blood was analyzed to check for genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers found that both men and women who drank regularly were less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, those who drank the most cut their risk for developing the disease by 50 percent, compared with those who drank the least.

"Drinking more than three drinks per week is associated with a 50 percent decrease for developing rheumatoid arthritis," Kallberg said.

Moreover, in people with antibodies to a group of proteins involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, drinking alcohol also cut the risk of developing the disease. And in most smokers who had genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis, drinking also reduced the risk of the disease. Smoking is a major risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis, and that risk is increased for those with a genetic susceptibility to disease, the researchers noted.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system uses its own antibodies to attack joints, causing pain and swelling and loss of function in joints. The causes of the disease aren't known, but researchers suspect there is a strong genetic component as well as lifestyle risks.

Dr. John Hardin, the chief science officer for the Arthritis Foundation, said he wasn't surprised by the finding that alcohol could help prevent rheumatoid arthritis.

"This study brings attention to the fact that there are environmental factors that trigger rheumatoid arthritis," he said.

There are a variety of environmental factors that can either promote the disease or help prevent it, Hardin said. "What this means to me is that things that cause an inflammatory state in the body are a hazard requiring rheumatoid arthritis," he said.

"We know that smoking is one of the things associated with a systemic inflammatory response," Hardin said. "We also know that alcohol is a mild anti-inflammatory."

Hardin was cautious, however, about recommending drinking to stave off rheumatoid arthritis. "This study should not be construed as a license to go drink, because there are serious hazards associated with excess alcohol intake," he said.

More information

To learn more about rheumatoid arthritis, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Henrik Kallberg, MSc, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; John Hardin, M.D., chief science officer, Arthritis Foundation, Atlanta; June 4, 2008, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, online

Last Updated: June 05, 2008

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