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Moderate alcohol consumption 'improves fibromyalgia'

The study

The self-reported alcohol consumption of 946 patients aged 18 years or over with a confirmed diagnosis of fibromyalgia was recorded, with less than or equal to three drinks per week equating to low consumption. Over three to seven accounted for moderate users and over seven were classified as heavy drinkers. Outcomes were assessed using the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and the Short Form-36.

The findings

Alcohol consumption was associated with significantly lower total scores on the FIQ, compared with non-drinkers. Low consumers had a mean score of 61, moderate drinkers a score of 54.7 and heavy drinkers a score of 62.2. Pain, as measured by the FIQ, was reduced significantly across all three groups, compared with non-drinkers, but was reduced the most in moderate alcohol consumers, with a score of 5.6. Physical function scores, as measured by the SF-36, were significantly reduced in all groups compared with non-drinkers, but the low consumers had the lowest score with 42.4.

What does it mean for GPs?

The US authors said they could not recommend patients with fibromyalgia start or increase their consumption of alcohol, but said their study showed the ‘mechanism underlying the association between alcohol consumption and symptoms severity in fibromyalgia requires further investigation.’

Arthritis Research and Therapy 2013, online 15 March

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