Rheumatoid Arthritis and Alcohol….Is it a Bad Mix? Yes…No…it Depends…
By: Oleda Baker
Be Careful! A major Scandinavian study showed that consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol reduced the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis by 50%.
That might be true, BUT, don’t misinterpret those results. Drinking can only help prevent the development of Rheumatoid arthritis; IT WORKS JUST THE OPPOSITE IF YOU ALREADY HAVE THE DISEASE.
So, if you already have Rheumatoid arthritis, don’t drink alcohol. Here’s why:
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition. According to the Annals of Epidemiology, chronic, excessive alcohol increases inflammation in your body.
Medications are essential to cope with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But, taking lots of drugs can damage your liver. Excessive alcohol inflames the liver and affects how it functions.
Too many drinks put you at risk for hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Rheumatoid arthritis is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to the American College of Rheumatology.
Alcohol causes weight gain. Yet, health professionals often recommend shedding pounds to help improve rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Alcohol in general flushes vital nutrients from your body, such as the mineral magnesium and vitamin B1 or thiamine. Both are essential to muscle function, which is already compromised when you have arthritis. Also, B1 deficiency can affect nerve function and cause walking problems and weakness in your hands and legs.
Alcohol is dehydrating, which makes your muscles tighter or stiffer; arthritis has a similar effect.
Arthritis can result in bone loss and deterioration. Alcohol thins your bones, making them more prone to damage.
Both alcohol and arthritis disrupt sleep.
Women are twice as likely to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis — and they are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. This makes drinking alcohol even riskier for women with arthritis.
Does it mean you have to give up your favorite bubbly during holidays, or an after-work cocktail with your colleagues? Well, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, yes, unless you want to suffer more than you already are! But, for occasional imbibes, here are some smart guidelines:
Generally, for women, moderate drinking means one drink (for men it’s two drinks), However, this amount can vary based on your body size. You also need to remember that alcohol interacts with arthritis medications.
Don’t drink even a sip of alcohol if you are taking acetaminophen or methotrexate; even moderate drinking can lead to liver damage.
To avoid stomach problems don’t drink when you take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or aspirin.
Avoid using narcotic analgesics (such as codeine), muscle relaxants, or sleep medications when you drink; they strengthen the effects of alcohol.
Using alcohol to cope with pain or depression caused by arthritis maay be a sign that your treatment isn’t as effective as it should be. Talk to your doctor about better medications and alternative pain remedies such as hot and cold treatments, meditation, or acupuncture. If you’re depressed, seek medical treatment and counseling.
Recent studies show that moderate use of alcohol may have a beneficial effect on the coronary system. In general, for healthy people, one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men would be considered the maximum amount of alcohol consumption to be considered moderate use. However, the amount of alcohol that a person can drink safely is highly individual, depending on genetics, age, sex, weight and family history, etc.
IMPORTANT: One drink is considered to be:
1-1/4 ounces of distilled liquor (80 proof whiskey, vodka, scotch, or rum) NOTE THAT 1 ¼ OUNCES IS EQUAL TO ONLY 4 TABLESPOONS.
4-5 ounces of wine
10 ounces of wine cooler
12 ounces of beer
Until next time,