Does Alcohol Consumption Influence Osteoarthritis Risk?

Sarfaroj Khan 


March 26, 2021


  • This meta-analysis found a negative association between weekly or more frequent alcohol consumption and osteoarthritis (OA).

  • However, this negative association was no longer observed when adjusted for confounding factors (body mass index, age, gender or smoking).

Why this matters

  • Finding provides evidence to dispel notions that alcohol use may offer protection against OA.

Study design

  • 29 observational studies including 25,192 patients with OA met eligibility criteria after a search across electronic databases.

  • Funding: Versus Arthritis through Versus Arthritis Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Therapies Centre.

Key results

  • A statistically significant negative association was seen between alcohol consumption and OA (OR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.68-0.93; I2, 93.7%).

  • The OR of weekly or more frequent alcohol consumption was 0.79 (95% CI, 0.65-0.97; I2, 94%).

  • When grouped by covariates, alcohol consumption showed a negative association with (OR; 95% CI):

    • radiographically diagnosed OA (0.83; 0.70-0.98);

    • hand OA (0.80; 0.66-0.95);

    • knee OA (0.85; 0.72-0.99; I2, 84%);

    • North American ethnicity (0.91; 0.85-0.98); and

    • female gender (0.72; 0.59-0.88; I2, 95%).

  • Subgroup analysis of unadjusted data revealed an OR of 0.70 (95% CI, 0.55-0.89), but this disappeared after adjustment for any confounders (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.78-1.10).


  • Heterogeneity among studies.


To K, Mak C, Zhang C, Zhou Y, Filbay S, Khan W. The association between alcohol consumption and osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis and meta-regression of observational studies. Rheumatol Int. 2021 Mar 20 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1007/s00296-021-04844-0. PMID: 33745000.  View full text 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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