Your Favorite Drink May Increase Your Risk of This Skin Condition

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In the U.S. alone, more than 14 million people are living with rosacea, the frustrating skin disorder that causes different degrees of facial redness, acne-like breakouts and swelling, and unfortunately, has no cure. We know that several triggers can cause the condition to flare up, including spicy foods, stress, sunlight, and alcohol (particularly red wine). What we didn’t know was that certain types of alcohol could actually make people more prone to developing rosacea in the first place. And thanks to a study conducted by a team of researchers at Brown University, we now have answers.

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Published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the study analyzed data from 82,737 participants in the Nurses Health Study II, an ongoing prospective cohort study with biennial questionnaires on the nurses’ medical history and lifestyle practices since 1989. Researchers reviewed the types of alcohol the nurses consumed (red or white wine, liquor, or regular or light beer) and how often they consumed it. They also noted whether or not the nurses had been diagnosed with rosacea.

Findings revealed that women who drink alcohol had an elevated risk compared to those who didn’t drink, and two types of alcohol in particular were major culprits: white wine and liquor. White wine drinkers who consumed one to three glasses a month, increased their risk of developing the skin condition by 14 percent; up to 49 percent for those drinking five or more glasses a week. Those who chose liquor increased their risk by 8–28 percent depending on the amount they consumed. Interestingly, beer and red wine were not found to significantly increase the risk.

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“Drinking alcohol has a number of effects on your body that can impact your skin,” says Dr. Abrar A. Qureshi, chair of the department of dermatology at Brown University and one of the study’s authors. “While alcohol has been linked to a variety of skin disorders, including psoriasis and acne, our research suggests that it’s also associated with the development of rosacea in women.”

Rosacea can be a tricky skin issue to sort out, but studies like these provide valuable information for doctors and patients alike. We expect even more research like this to be conducted over the short- and long-term to discover other important associations that can help people manage and prevent rosacea. 

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