Celiac.com 09/10/2010 - Women who regularly drink beer may face higher risk of developing psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that causes skin rashes and other, according to a new study, though beverages, such as light beer and wine, showed no such elevated risk.
For the study, a team of researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Boston University enrolled 82,869 women who were not originally diagnosed with psoriasis. They monitored the women for nearly fifteen years, from 1991 through 2005.
During the study period, subjects used the women Nurses' Health Study II to report their regular alcohol consumption, and any diagnosis of psoriasis. The results showed that even relatively small amounts of beer corresponded to an increase psoriasis diagnosis. Women who drank just 2.3 beers a week saw their psoriasis rates rise by almost 80%.
For women who drink five regular beers a week, the risk of developing psoriasis is nearly double that of non-drinkers. Does this mean women shouldn't drink beer? Not exactly.
"We can say that if a woman would like to consume alcohol and if she has a family history of psoriasis or known psoriasis in the past or some other reason she might be predisposed to psoriasis, the alcohol of choice probably should not be nonlight beer," said Dr. Abrar A. Qureshi, lead author of an article on the study published in Archives of Dermatology.
But Bruce Bebo, director of research and medical programs at the National Psoriasis Foundation, says the findings warrant "more investigation to determine whether there's a real connection or not."
Earlier studies have also tied psoriasis rates to alcohol consumption, although the nature of this connection is not well understood. The fact that no other types of alcohol in this study showed the same association with psoriasis was of particular interest to Bebo.
"There is evidence that alcohol consumption can affect immune responses and psoriasis is an autoimmune disease," Bebo said. "There's also some evidence that it can affect the biology of keratinocytes (certain skin cells). But ... then why would it be nonlight beer, why not wine or other alcohol? Maybe there's something in wine that ... might reverse the effect."
Another study in the same issue of journal reports that people with psoriasis suffer higher rates of depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.
That study, by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, found that men with psoriasis suffered from these adverse mental health outcomes more than women.