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Drinking Tied to Inflammatory Markers in Preclinical RA

Alcohol intake has relationship with these markers before rheumatoid arthritis symptoms occur

MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Daily alcohol intake shows a U-shaped association with interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels and an inverse relationship with soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor II (sTNFRII) levels, both biomarkers of inflammation, before onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, according to research published in the December issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Bing Lu, M.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues studied 174 incident RA cases with stored blood collected one to 16 years prior to the first RA symptom (preclinical RA), from the Nurses' Health Study.

The researchers found that, in preclinical RA, daily alcohol intake followed a U-shaped association with IL-6 levels, with minimum values at an alcohol intake of 10 to 12 g daily (about one drink per day). Levels of sTNFRII were lower with increased daily alcohol intake. There was no association between alcohol and levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies, which are other markers of inflammation.

"These associations suggest that the anti-inflammatory effect of alcohol might be the link between moderate alcohol consumption and possible decreased risk of RA. Alcohol intake alone, however, may not be powerful enough to influence risk of RA," the authors write.

One author has received research grants from Abbott and Amgen and course sponsorship from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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