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A little alcohol may lower arthritis risk

ROME, June 18 (UPI) -- Dutch researchers suggest small amounts of alcohol may lower the risk of developing several arthritic conditions.

Researchers at Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands, associate low alcohol consumption -- drinking less alcohol than those in the control group -- with a significantly lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ratisteoarthritis, spondylarthropathy, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis.

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Lead author Dr. Annekoos Leonoor Huidekoper said another interesting finding was the degree of systemic inflammation in patients was shown to increase as the amount of alcohol consumed decreased.

The researchers say there may several explanations for their findings, including the possibility some alcohol in low amounts could help protect against the development of systemic inflammation.

"We know from previous research that alcohol consumption may confer a protective effect against developing rheumatoid arthritis, our data have shown that this effect may apply to other arthritic conditions too," the study authors said in a statement. "What intrigues us now is that the findings related to systemic inflammation, further research into the inflammatory pathways involved is needed to determine the exact nature of the association."

The finding was presented at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome.

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