The next time someone offers you a glass of wine, be grateful - it could save you from the agony of arthritis.
Women who indulge in moderate drinking halve the risk of certain forms of the illness, researchers have found.
Swedish scientists found that women who drank at least three medium-sized glasses of wine a week - or the equivalent in beer or spirits - were up to 52 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
The illness is caused by the immune system - which normally fights infection - attacking the cells lining the joints.
Academics believe alcohol counters this process because it lowers the immune response. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm quizzed 34,100 women aged 39 to 84 about their drinking habits.
Those who drank at least three 150ml glasses of wine, or a pint of beer or two measures of spirits a week, were 52 percent less at risk from arthritis.
Professor Alan Silman, medical research director of Arthritis Research UK, said: “Small amounts of alcohol are known to be beneficial in reducing the risk of other conditions such as heart disease, also an inflammatory disease, so the study is telling us something about the mechanism of inflammation.”
However, it is important to stress that the paper isn’t saying that excessive amounts of alcohol are good for you!
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