Add it to the list of magical things wine can do for you: a recent study by researchers at Nottingham University suggests that moderate wine consumption actually lowers the risk of developing arthritis of the knee. The study, as reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, showed that while wine consumption helps in the battle against the disease, drinking beer may heighten the risk. By a huge margin, too.
A couple of qualifiers: the study was done on Caucasian men and women, all aged 45 to 86 years, where issues like arthritis become more common. So the findings can’t necessarily be extended to the larger population. But they’re startling enough to warrant general attention, especially if you count yourself among the millions of beer or wine drinkers with plans to keep imbibing well into middle age. Or if you hope to have functional knees with which to keep dancing, prancing, and generally strutting around town well into middle age.
The basic breakdown, which isn’t the greatest news for beer lovers: those who drank 20 or more beers per week were actually 93% more likely to get knee arthritis, and twice as likely to develop hip problems. Wine drinkers, on the other hand, lowered their risk—and, strangely enough, the more they drank, the more they lowered it: drink 4 to 6 glasses a week and risk drops down by 44%; drink 7 or more glasses of wine and the risk of knee arthritis is apparently lowered by over 50%.
Again, the study was relegated to a particular population, but the findings—and contrasts—are pretty staggering. The cause, on the other hand, isn’t totally clear. Current guesses go immediately, and reasonably, to the anti-inflammatory impact of red wine’s polyphenols, e.g. resveratrol, which has also been shown to help in the battle against acne — seriously, is there nothing it can’t do? Beer, on the other hand, contains high levels of purines, basically compounds that your body converts into uric acid—the cause of gout (a super painful form of arthritis). So when you drink a lot of beer—and it’s football season, so we will—you’re building up uric acid levels in your body, seriously increasing your risk for knee and hip problems down the road. Or so the study suggests. Per it’s authors, “the mechanism behind these findings is speculative but warrants further study.”