Beer Linked to Psoriasis in Women -- but correlation is not causation
Once again the role of social class seems to have been overlooked. From what I know, beer is most likely to be consumed by the rougher end of working class women and poor people have worse health across the board anyway. Women with any pretensions to class tend to drink mixed drinks or wine.
Women who drink regular beer may be increasing their risk of developing psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder affecting the skin, new findings suggest. Other options, such as light beer and wine, were not linked to such a risk.
Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Boston University tracked 82,869 women who had not initially been diagnosed with psoriasis for about 15 years, from 1991 through 2005. The participants, from the Nurses' Health Study II, reported their own alcohol consumption and also, over the course of the study, reported whether a doctor had diagnosed psoriasis.
The researchers found that even relatively moderate amounts of beer seemed to increase the risk of psoriasis, with 2.3 drinks a week driving up the risk almost 80 percent.
And five beers a week more than doubled the risk of being diagnosed with this skin condition, as compared with teetotalers.
"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," said Dr. Abrar A. Qureshi, lead author of the article appearing in the December issue of Archives of Dermatology.
But Bruce Bebo, director of research and medical programs at the National Psoriasis Foundation, feels the findings "need more investigation to determine whether there's a real connection or not."
And on the question of drinking in general, he added, "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."
Previous studies have found an association between alcohol and psoriasis, although the reasons for this link were not clear.
"There is evidence that alcohol consumption can affect immune responses and psoriasis is an autoimmune disease," Bebo said. "There's also some evidence that it can affect the biology of [the skin cells known as] keratinocytes. But ... then why would it be nonlight beer, why not wine or other alcohol? Maybe there's something in wine that ... might reverse the effect."
"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," said Qureshi, who is an assistant professor of dermatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. "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."
Another study in the same issue of journal found that psoriasis carries a heavy mental health burden, with people who have the disease suffering higher rates of depression, anxiety and even suicidality.
The link was more pronounced in men, according to the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
A third study in the journal reported that treating psoriasis with narrow-band UV-B light rays may increase vitamin D levels in patients and help reduce the burden of the disease.
But the Irish authors, who reported various financial ties with pharmaceutical companies, don't believe that the higher vitamin D levels actually were responsible for the psoriasis clearing.
Hard-wired for chocolate and hybrid cars? How genetics affect consumer choice
The ever-expanding role of genetics in explaining health and behaviour gets another big boost
Clues to consumer behavior may be lurking our genes, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"We examine a wide range of consumer judgment and decision-making phenomenon and discover that many—though not all of them—are in fact heritable or influenced by genetic factors," write authors Itamar Simonson (Stanford University) and Aner Sela (University of Florida, Gainesville).
The authors studied twins' consumer preferences to determine whether or not certain behaviors or traits have a genetic basis. "A greater similarity in behavior or trait between identical than between fraternal twins indicates that the behavior or trait is likely to be heritable," the authors explain.
The authors discovered that people seem to inherit the following tendencies: to choose a compromise option and avoid extremes; select sure gains over gambles; prefer an easy but non-rewarding task over an enjoyable challenging one; look for the best option available; and prefer utilitarian, clearly needed options (like batteries) over more indulgent ones (gourmet chocolate). They also found that likings for specific products seemed to be genetically related: chocolate, mustard, hybrid cars, science fiction movies, and jazz.
The researchers also found that some tendencies did not seem to be heritable—for example, a preference for a smaller versus larger product variety or likings for ketchup and tattoos.
"The current research suggests that heritable and other hard-wired inherent preference components play a key role in behavior and deserve much more attention in marketing and decision-making research," the authors write.
The authors believe their work may reveal some important information on the genetics of "prudence." "Some people may be born with a tendency to 'be in the mainstream' whereas others tend to 'live on the edge," the authors conclude.
More information: Itamar Simonson and Aner Sela. "On the Heritability of Consumer Decision Making: An Exploratory Approach for Studying Genetic Effects on Judgment and Choice." Journal of Consumer Research: April 2011.