Does alcohol cause arthritis or not?
‘Cause’ is probably the wrong word in this question because it is almost a certainty that alcohol is not the trigger for the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
Perhaps the more relevant question is ‘does alcohol aggravate arthritis’?
When it comes to RA the current thinking about alcohol is significantly different from that of smoking.
We know for certain that tobacco use directly accelerates the progress of the disease.
Almost certainly you will be advised to stop smoking if you are diagnosed with arthritis.
The water is somewhat cloudier when it comes to alcohol.
Many people claim that drinking in moderation actually helps with the pain and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
This is not entirely a surprise because alcohol is a mild anesthetic.
If you have any condition that involves pain in the body then it should be obvious that taking a substance that numbs the central nervous system is going to be seen in a positive light.
Using alcohol as medication is never a good idea.
This is why when someone is rushed to hospital in cardiac attack the doctors never put him or her on a Merlot drip… Stat! This is despite all the claims that red wine is good for our hearts.
Equally GP’s don’t prescribe alcohol for pain management.
The side effects far outweigh the benefits, plus alcohol is the second most addictive substance on planet earth.
Prescribing alcohol to deal with pain would be like sawing off your leg to stop your foot hurting.
However, all that said – alcohol in small amounts does not seem to aggravate arthritis in most people.
Good news you may think, but as always there is a little more depth to the story.
In my book The Alcohol Illusion I refer to booze as the ultimate magician.
It is always distracting you with impressive sleight of hand to keep your attention away from what is really going on.
Alcohol has you focus on the good times, the illusion of relaxation and many other faux benefits to stop you noticing the addiction taking root.
Alcoholism and rheumatoid arthritis are similar, only in that they are both progressive diseases.
They will both get worse given time, never better.
If you drink and have arthritis you are unwittingly creating a perfect storm for your future self.
The more you drink alcohol the more you are going to get addicted – this is an unmistakable fact.
Your arthritis is going to get worse over time…
Your arthritis is going to get worse over time, not because of the booze but just because of the nature of the disease.
At some point it will become so painful and debilitating that you are going to go to the doctor and ask for prescription drugs to help.
All these drugs require you to either stop drinking or severely limited your alcohol consumption.
However, this is a problem for the drinker because by now they are so hooked on booze that they can’t quit.
What this means is the painkillers will lose a great deal of their effectiveness because of their interaction with alcohol.
This means you will be in much more pain than you need to be but it isn’t a life-threatening problem.
However drugs like methotrexate are metabolized in the liver just like alcohol.
If you mix these DMARD’s with alcohol very bad things start to happen.
Your liver which has been under attack from the alcohol now has another toxin to deal with.
But worse than that, the whole because greater than the sum of the parts.
Alcohol mixed with methotrexate is like moving from attacking you liver with conventional weapons to pulling out the big guns and dropping nukes.
So to summarize: alcohol does not cause arthritis, it does not even trigger a flare up.
However, getting addicted to alcohol is going to cause you huge problems in the future.