Beer Consumption Linked to Psoriasis in Women

August 23, 2010

Research shows that frequent consumption of beer is associated with increased risk of psoriasis in women.

According to a study to be published in Archives of Dermatology, women who regularly drink beer may face an increased risk of developing psoriasis.

A news release from Brigham and Women's Hospital reports that frequent consumption of regular beer (but not light beer or other types of alcohol) is associated with an increased risk of psoriasis in women. Researchers assessed data from more than 82,000 women, age 27 to 44 years in 1991, who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Researchers found that compared with women who did not drink alcohol, study participants who reported an average of 2.3 drinks per week or more had a 72% greater risk of psoriasis. The study also revealed “an association between non-light beer drinking and psoriasis, such that women who drank five or more beers per week had a risk for the condition that was 1.8 times higher.” Consumption of other forms of alcohol, including light beer, wine, and liquor, was not associated with psoriasis risk.

The news release also reports that data from “confirmed” psoriasis cases -- those in which “women provided more details about their condition on a seven-item self-assessment -- showed the risk for psoriasis was “2.3 times higher for women who drank five or more beers per week than women who did not drink beer.”

Lead study author Abrar A. Qureshi, MD, MPH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told HealthDay “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.”

However, Bruce Bebo, director of research and medical programs at the National Psoriasis Foundation, said that he thinks further study of this topic is warranted before physicians make any recommendations to patients. Bebo said that “from the point of view of the health-care provider, trying to limit alcohol consumption for lots of reasons is important. If this encourages people to limit alcohol consumption, I think that's a positive outcome, but I don't think the National Psoriasis Foundation or any physician group would make a recommendation.”

One reason for the increased risk of psoriasis from nonlight beer may be due to the higher protein and gluten content in regular beer compared to light beer, wine, and other forms of alcohol. Qureshi said that “When we looked up the components of different alcoholic beverages, one thing that stood out for nonlight beer was the amount of protein, gluten in particular… When we stumbled on this, we realized that there have been reports in the past that ingested gluten was associated not just with psoriasis worsening but other autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease.”

The full-text version of the study, “Alcohol Intake and Risk of Incident Psoriasis in US Women,” is posted online at the Archives of Dermatology website.