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Could a Few Beers a Week Cut a Woman's RA Risk?

Study finds the brew is helpful, but drinking too much is never warranted, experts say

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It's possible that alcohol may work to boost levels of estrogen, which is protective against rheumatoid arthritis, Arkfeld said.

The new findings might be especially relevant for someone with a family history of the disease, added Dr. Scott Zashin, a rheumatologist in Dallas and a member of the media committee for the American College of Rheumatology.

"The likelihood of someone developing rheumatoid arthritis is not common," Zashin said. "But if you have a family history, your risk increases."

He said that "patients with a family history might enjoy a beer a few times a week if there is no other reason not to drink."

But while imbibing the occasional drink may be good for your health, Horovitz stressed that excessive drinking is never a good idea. Nor is the new finding a reason for people who don't drink beer to start doing so, he said.

Arkfeld offered one more caveat, noting that alcohol does not mix well with certain rheumatoid arthritis drugs due to the risk of liver effects. So in those who already have rheumatoid arthritis, checking with your doctor before upping your alcohol intake is advised, he said.

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