Alcohol consumption habit is linked to lower RA disease activity: Expert findings!

According to a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, RA patients who consume alcohol reported lower disease activity and more beneficial one-year outcomes. The investigation was conducted by Dr. Alfredson and co-researchers in 1228 RA patients to identify the relationship between alcohol consumption and RA.

Researchers analyzed the data of newly diagnosed RA patients from the Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis population-based control study. After 1 year of follow-up, higher odds of pain and fatigue, and lower health-related quality of life were reported in non-drinkers than alcohol drinkers. These differences were also observed in both the drinkers and non-drinkers who did not alter their habits even after the onset of the disease. Patients who discontinued alcohol consumption post-baseline demonstrated higher disease activity, increased pain, and lower health-related quality compared to drinkers.

A prospective cohort study conducted by Hedenstierna and his team has also reported a 30% reduced RA incidence in alcohol drinkers. The increased alcohol consumption has reduced the link between smoking and RA incidence. Furthermore, researchers reported the existence of a synergistic effect between alcohol use and smoking in smokers who have attenuated alcohol drinking.

Although the current study has shown a dose-dependent association of lower disease activity and higher health-related quality of life with alcohol consumption in RA patients, its adverse health effects limit its implementation in clinics. Hence, further research is warranted to find other ways to achieve protection against RA other than alcohol consumption.


  1. Alfredsson L, Klareskog L, Hedström AK. Disease activity and health‐related quality of life among patients with rheumatoid arthritis with different alcohol consumption habits. Arthritis & Rheumatology. 2023 Jan 11.
  2. Hedenstierna L, Bellocco R, Ye W, Adami HO, Akerstedt T, Lagerros YT, Hedstrom AK. Effects of alcohol consumption and smoking on risk for RA: results from a Swedish prospective cohort study. RMD open. 2021 Jan 1;7(1):e001379.