Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the skin to become reddened and itchy from thickened layers of cells that build up on the skin’s surface. Living with psoriasis can be difficult and emotionally draining as it interferes with interactions with other people and one’s ability to focus at work.
A connection between alcohol consumption and psoriasis has been suspected for many years but it has been unclear whether people with psoriasis drink more because of the stress of their illness or if alcohol was aggravating their psoriasis.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham Woman’s Hospital reviewed questionnaire information from 82,869 women between the ages of 27 and 44 from the Nurses’ Health Study II regarding the amount and type of alcohol they consumed from 1991 to 2005.
For those of you who are not familiar with Nurse Health Studies, these studies are thought to be some of the most accurate and important data gathering sources measuring women’s preventive health practices. Because nurses are reliable and consistent sources of information, their input is considered to be trustworthy and unbiased.
Information from 1,069 nurses who developed psoriasis were reviewed and their alcohol use was compared against women who did not drink at all. The risk of developing psoriasis was higher in women who drank more than two drinks a week. Further questioning of the type of alcohol consumed showed that women who drank five or more regular (non-light) beers a week had almost 2.3 times the risk of developing psoriasis. Women who drank light beer, red or white wine and other sources of alcohol were not found to have an increased psoriasis risk.
Why would regular (non-light) beer increase psoriasis risk and not other sources of alcohol? Researchers feel that because beer uses starch, typically barley, in its fermentation process while wine uses fruit (grapes) the answer may be due to how each are made. Barley contains gluten and perhaps that is what causes psoriasis sufferers to develop a reaction. Light beers use lower amounts of grain so the amount of starch they contain is less.