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A woman at a bar with a bottle of beer

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is often though of as a single disease. However, it’s actually an umbrella term used for a group of more than 100 medical conditions.

One of the most well known of these conditions is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is an autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s joints. The effects of this disease can include damage to the joints and organs, such as the heart. About 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, and women are three times more likely to have the disease than men.

While there are many different steps you can take to help control arthritis and reduce its development, a new study is suggesting a very surprising option: beer.

“Long-term, moderate alcohol drinking may reduce future rheumatoid arthritis development” in women, said lead researcher Dr. Bing Lu, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, in Boston.

Overall, moderate use of any form of alcohol reduced the risk by about 21 percent, but moderate beer drinking — two to four beers per week — cut women’s odds for the disease by nearly a third, the study found.

The astonishing findings are published in the spring 2014 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Experts have expressed two caveats:

  • While occasional drinking may actually be good for your health, excessive drinking isn’t.
  • This new finding is not a reason for people who don’t already drink beer to start.
  • Alcohol does not mix well with certain rheumatoid arthritis drugs because of how it may affect the liver. If you already have RA, talk to a doctor before increasing your alcohol intake.

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