Sunday, July 26, 2015

Alcohol increases autoimmune disease risk, worsens symptoms

If you don't know what an autoimmune disease is, you haven't had the distinct pleasure of hearing from your physician that you have one… your fortunate. It's just like it sounds: A body's immune system goes on auto and instead of fighting intruders only, it attacks healthy cells by mistake. You hear about them every day. Rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, MS, celiac disease, and lupus are some of the more common autoimmune diseases, but there are more than 80 of them. (YouTube video, episode #51 here)

Alcohol increases risk of these disorders and worsens many symptoms. Here's how.
1) Stress. Alcohol is considered by many to relieve stress, however, alcoholics have a higher level of the stress hormone cortisol – I cover that extensively in Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud. A 2002 study led by French researcher Arnaud Cenac indicated that major stress caused by or self-medicated by alcohol in the previous 24 months increases risk 140 percent.

2) Alcohol use increases blood levels of immunoglobulins. It's a mouthful, but these proteins are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize bacteria and viruses. Although an increase in a given antibody is usually associated with a specific immunity, such as the immunity resulting from a flu shot, alcoholics with these greatly increased antibody levels are often immunodeficient because the proteins go postal looking for something to neutralize.

3) Alcohol consumption increases whole body inflammation by reducing the effectiveness of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E, according to studies by the University René Descartes in France. In other words, inflammation is a key symptom of autoimmune disease and alcohol will make it worse.

Fact is, there isn't anything a drink won't make worse. When it comes to autoimmune diseases a 2006 study indicated the risk of acquiring these chronic conditions increases 65 percent with smoking… and 98 percent with alcohol consumption.
(see the full article)

Visit for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud also can be found on, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today.