Alcohol to Ward Off Arthritis   

Alcohol to Ward Off Arthritis

Mode rate alcohol consumption may lower the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to two Scandinavian studies. A Danish study comparing 444 people with rheumatoid arthritis to 523 similar people without arthritis and a Swedish study involving 1,204 rheumatoid arthritis cases and 871 people without the condition.

In both studies, the average number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week was lower among the people with arthritis than the comparison subjects - 2.9 vs 4.1 in the Swedish study, and 6.6 vs 9.0 in the Danish study.

The likelihood of having rheumatoid arthritis was reduced by about 40 percent to 50 percent among subjects with the highest consumption of alcohol compared to those with the lowest consumption.

In both studies, the risk reduction with alcohol consumption was more pronounced among people who had smoked than among non-smokers.

The main message remains that cessation of smoking is the most effective way to diminish the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. This recommendation should not necessarily be combined with a recommendation to stop moderate alcohol consumption.

. . . But Too Much Damages Heart and Arteries

Heavy drinking causes high blood pressure, stiff arteries and rigid heart muscles in men and enlarged hearts in women, boosting their risk of having heart attacks and strokes, researchers said recently.

They defined heavy drinking as more than 21 drinks a week for men and more than 14 per week for women. We definitely see quite a deleterious effect..

The most worrisome aspect is in women. It has a direct toxic effect. Basically, women are not able to cope with high alcohol consumption. It is going directly to the heart and damaging it.

Once a heart becomes enlarged – a sign it has been overtaxed- it is difficult to reverse. Mahmud said prior studies have suggested that people with enlarged hearts are five to six times more likely to have heart attacks. Moderate drinking has been shown in many studies to have heart benefits. But heavy drinking counteracts these benefits and can cause serious harm, she said.

200 men and women with an average age of 46 who were referred to her hypertension clinic but were not being treated for high blood pressure. People in the study were put into three categories: non-drinkers, moderate drinkers (fewer than 21 drinks a week for men and fewer than 14 a week for women), and heavy drinkers (more than 21 drinks a week for men and more than 14 weekly for women).

About 20 percent of the women fell into the heavy drinker category and nearly 40 percent of the men were heavy drinkers. The researchers measured the heart muscle and assessed stiffness of arteries and blood pressure inside the aorta.:p>

They found men who were the heaviest drinkers were the most likely to have high blood pressure and stiffening of the arteries and heart muscle.

WoWomen who were the heaviest drinkers were most likely to have enlarged hearts.

Heavy drinking seemed to accelerate the effects of high blood pressure in men, and cause a direct toxic effect to heart tissue in women. The findings were above what would be expected for people of the same age with high blood pressure.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer globally. According to the World Health Organi21ation, heart disease killed 17.5 million people in 2005, and that number is expected to rise to nearly 20 million by 2015.


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