Patients With Worse RA Symptoms More Likely to Cut Alcohol Intake

No evidence found that alcohol use has beneficial effect in rheumatoid arthritis patients

alcoholic drink

FRIDAY, March 29, 2019 (Pharmacist's Briefing) -- Higher disease activity, disability, comorbidity, and poor quality of life contribute to reductions in alcohol use among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a study published online March 20 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Joshua F. Baker, M.D., from the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, and colleagues used data from 16,762 participants in Forward, the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases, to identify predictors of changes in alcohol use and evaluate independent associations between alcohol use and RA activity and mortality.

The researchers found that discontinuation and initiation of alcohol were common among drinkers and abstainers (8.2 and 8.4 percent of observations, respectively). There was greater discontinuation and less initiation among participants with greater disease activity, older age, female sex, nonwhite race, obesity, greater comorbidity, low quality of life, low educational level, low income, and work disability. In traditional models, alcohol users had lower Patient Activity Scale-II scores and a lower mortality, but these associations were not seen in marginal structural models.

"Active use and changes in use were not associated with disease activity or mortality when adjusting for confounding, suggesting no clear benefit of alcohol consumption in RA," the authors write.

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