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Women Who Drink Beer at Increased Risk of Psoriasis

Women who drink 5 or more regular strength beers per week more than double their risks of developing psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin disease that results in episodic painful skin rashes and other symptoms.

Researchers knew that alcohol seemed to increase a person’s risk of developing psoriasis, but no one knew if different types of alcohol caused differing reactions. To remedy this, scientists at Bringham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School studied the records of more than 80 000 participants of the Nurses Health Study II, which began in 1991. As a part of this study, every two years, all women participant were asked to describe their drinking habits and to reveal any incidences of psoriasis.

The Results

The researchers found that:

  • Women who drank wine, liquor or lite beers had no increased risk for psoriasis
  • Women who drank an average of 2.3 alcoholic drinks per week had a 72% increased chance of developing psoriasis over women who abstained form alcohol
  • Women who drank, on average, 5 or more full strength beers per week were 230% more likely to develop the disease than women who didn’t drink beer

Why Beer and Not Lite Beer?

While the study authors can’t say for sure why beer increases the risks so dramatically, they suspect it has something to do with the barely starch that is used in the fermentation process. Barley contains gluten - something that women with psoriasis may find worsens their condition. Although lite beer is also made from barley, much less is used in its production.

The study authors recommend that, “Women with a high risk of psoriasis may consider avoiding higher intake of non-light beer. We suggest conducting further investigations into the potential mechanisms of non-light beer inducing new-onset psoriasis.”

The full study results can be read in the December 2010 edition of Archives of Dermatology.

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