Beer Linked to Psoriasis in Women
Women who enjoy drinking beer may want to reconsider which brew they pick up next time. A new study finds that regular beer, but not light beer, is associated with an increased risk of psoriasis in women.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School report that other types of alcohol were not found to be associated with the increased risk of psoriasis. Their findings will be published in the December print issue of Archives of Dermatology.
Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. The National Institutes of Health reports that as many as 7.5 million Americans (2.2% of the population) have psoriasis, with 125 million people around the world affected. It is more prevalent among Caucasians (2.5%) than African Americans (1.3%).
A link between psoriasis and alcohol use has been identified in previous studies. One, published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology in 2009, reported that the prevalence of psoriasis in people who misuse alcohol is much higher than the 1 to 3 percent generally noted in the general population. Several case-control studies in men have shown a relationship between alcohol consumption and psoriasis. When it comes to beer, there is some evidence that drinking this beverage places people at greater risk for gout than do wine or spirits.
Psoriasis, Beer, and Women
In the current study, Abrar A. Qureshi, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, evaluated data from 82,869 women who were ages 27 to 44 when then entered the Nurses’ Health Study in 1991, from which Qureshi obtained the data. An evaluation of the information gathered up to 2005 revealed 1,150 cases of psoriasis, of which 1,069 were used for analysis.
Compared with women who did not drink alcohol, the risk of developing psoriasis was 72 percent greater for women who averaged 2.3 drinks or more per week. When the type of alcohol was examined, however, only non-light beer was associated with a greater risk of psoriasis, about 1.8 times greater. Red or white wine, liquor, and light beer were not associated with a higher risk.
When the researchers focused solely on cases in which women provided more details about their condition (referred to as confirmed psoriasis cases), the risk for psoriasis was 2.3 times higher for women who drank five or more beers per week than women who abstained from beer.
The reason why non-light beer is the only alcoholic beverage that increased the risk for psoriasis is not known, but the authors suggest beer may have certain components not found in liquor or wine that play a role. One such component may be the starch source, barley, used in the fermentation process in beer. Barley and other starches contain gluten, and some individuals are sensitive to it. Non-light beer uses more grain than does light beer.
The authors suggest women who have a high risk of psoriasis may want to avoid drinking much non-light beer. Although psoriasis can affect just about anyone, some risk factors include family history (about one-third of people with psoriasis have a relative with the condition), obesity, smoking, and stress.
Archives of Dermatology, published online August 16, 2010; doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.204
National Psoriasis Foundation
Tobin AM et al. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 2009 Aug; 34(6): 698-701