Beer Linked to Psoriasis

Regular Beer May Contribute to Psoriasis in Women

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD

Aug. 16, 2010 -- Unless it says "light" on the label, that frosty beer you drink may increase the risk of developing psoriasis, a painful skin disease that afflicts more than 7 million Americans, new research indicates.

That's apparently true for women, at least, according to a study now online that will be published in the December print issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston examined data from 82,869 women who in 1991 were between the ages of 27 and 44.

Beer and Psoriasis

The women, participants in a research program called the Nurses Health Study II, described the amounts and types of alcohol they drank on questionnaires every two years, and also reported whether they had been diagnosed with psoriasis.

Among the findings:

  • 1,150 cases of psoriasis developed, of which 1,069 were used for analysis.
  • Light beer, red and white wine, and liquor were not associated with psoriasis risk.
  • The risk of psoriasis was 72% greater among women who had an average of 2.3 drinks per week or more, compared to nurses who abstained from alcohol.
  • The risk of psoriasis was 2.3 times higher for women who drank five or more beers per week than nurses who didn't drink beer.

Non-Light Beer

"Non-light beer was the only alcoholic beverage that increased the risk for psoriasis, suggesting that certain non-alcoholic components of beer, which are not found in wine or liquor, may play an important role in new-onset psoriasis," the authors write in the study. "One of these components may be the starch source used in making beer."

Barley May Be Culprit

The researchers write that beer is one of the few non-distilled alcoholic drinks that uses a starch source for fermentation, and commonly, it's barley.

Barley and other starches contain gluten, a substance that some people with psoriasis are very sensitive to, the researchers say.

The researchers say that the association between alcohol consumption and increased risk of new cases of psoriasis, or of the condition worsening, has been suspected for a long time.

"Women with a high risk of psoriasis may consider avoiding higher intake of non-light beer," the authors say. "We suggest conducting further investigations into the potential mechanisms of non-light beer inducing new-onset psoriasis."


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SOURCES: News release, Archives of Dermatology.

Qureshi, A. Archives of Dermatology, published online Aug. 16, 2010.

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