London: A pint of beer or a small glass of wine thrice a week halves risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a painful condition of the joints.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm think alcohol could help prevent the disease by damping down the immune system. They looked at alcohol consumption and rheumatoid arthritis in 34,000 women born between 1914 and 1948.
They interviewed them twice, once in 1987 and once a decade later, asking them questions about alcohol consumption, diet, smoking history, physical activity and their level of education, the British Medical Journal (bmj.com) reports.
A 150 ml drink was classified as a small glass of wine or half a litre of beer (just under a pint). All types of drink appeared equally as effective, according to the Telegraph.
About 400,000 people in Britain alone suffer rheumatoid arthritis, and it is three times more common in women than in men. Not all are old - almost half are under 65 years.
Symptoms are joint swelling and pain, which is caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissue.
Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, warned: "It must be remembered that drinking alcohol in excess can be especially dangerous in rheumatoid arthritis patients who are taking some anti-rheumatoid drugs that may cause liver damage, and anti-inflammatory pain killers which can lead to gastro-intestinal problems, which can be exacerbated by alcohol."