Moderate alcohol consumption has antiinflammatory properties and is associated with reduced cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis risks. We investigated the association between alcohol consumption and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) risk among women followed in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) cohorts.
We conducted a prospective cohort analysis among 204,055 women in NHS (1980-2012) and NHSII (1989-2011) who were free of connective tissue disease and provided alcohol information at baseline. Alcohol consumption was assessed using a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire every 2-4 years. We validated incident SLE through medical record review after self-report. Cox proportional hazards models estimated hazard ratios (HRs) for SLE based on cumulative average alcohol intake, adjusting for potential confounders. Results were meta-analyzed using DerSimonian and Laird random-effects models. We further investigated SLE risk associated with wine, beer, and liquor intake.
We identified 125 incident SLE cases in NHS and 119 in NHSII. Mean ± SD age at SLE diagnosis was 55.8 ± 9.5 years in NHS and 43.4 ± 7.7 years in NHSII. Compared to no alcohol intake, the meta-analyzed multivariable HR for cumulative alcohol consumption ≥5 gm/day was 0.61 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.41-0.89). When limiting alcohol exposure to >4 years prior to SLE diagnosis, the multivariable HR was similar: 0.61 (95% CI 0.41-0.91). Women who drank ≥2 servings/week of wine had significantly decreased SLE risk (HR 0.65, 95% CI 0.45-0.96) compared to women who did not drink wine.
In these large prospective cohorts, we demonstrated an inverse association between moderate alcohol consumption (≥5 grams or 0.5 drink/day) and SLE risk in women.