Arthritis Impact on African-Americans and Hispanics

Arthritis causes more pain and limitations for African-Americans and Hispanics than for whites, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

African-Americans were 17 percent less likely to report having arthritis than whites, and Hispanics were 46 percent less likely to report the condition than whites, the study said. However, African-Americans and Hispanics with arthritis were almost twice as likely to report severe joint pain and work limitations attributed to their arthritis when compared to whites, it said.

The study, “Difference in the Prevalence and Impact of Arthritis among Racial/Ethnic Groups,” was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting 20% of adults. It interferes with work and other daily activities and can complicate the management of other chronic diseases. Arthritis encompasses more than 100 diseases and conditions that affect joints and other connective tissue.

The reason for the racial and ethnic differences, while unknown, may result from a lack of access to health care, language barriers and cultural differences, the report says.

“We must address these stark differences in arthritis impact by using what we know,” said Jennifer Hootman, an epidemiologist for the CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and co-author of the report. “We can educate those with arthritis about increasing physical activity and self-management and reducing obesity, especially those in groups bearing a disproportionate burden from arthritis.”

The data, collected from the CDC National Health Interview Survey, are the first to estimate the national prevalence of arthritis and assess its impact among smaller racial and ethnic groups that are usually grouped together when reporting health statistics.

Source: CDC, April 15, 2010

Regular Drinking May Reduce the Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Drinking alcohol regularly may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by up to 50%, according to recent research.

Scandinavian researchers conducted two studies, involving 2,750 people, assessing environmental and genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis. 1,650 participants had the disease, and were questioned about their smoking and drinking habits, while blood samples were taken to check for genetic risk factors.

Findings showed that drinking alcohol was linked to a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis; in fact, the more the subject drank, the lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Among regular drinkers, the quartile drinking the most were up to 50% less likely to develop the disease than the half who drank the least. Findings were the same for both men and women. In addition, alcohol cut the risk most in smokers with genetic risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.

The authors conclude that their research reinforces the importance of lifestyle factors in the development of the disease, and that giving up smoking remains the single most important preventive measure.

They point to recent experimental research by other authors, which shows that alcohol protects against the development and severity of rheumatoid arthritis, although it is not clear exactly how it does this. The study also draws parallels with the links between moderate alcohol consumption and a reduced risk of other inflammatory processes, such as cardiovascular disease.

The study was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Source: First Ann Rheum Dis 10.1136/ard.2007.086314