Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fibromyalgia and Alcohol as a Treatment?

Last year has seen a study by C.H. Kim and colleagues with the title: “Association between alcohol consumption and symptom severity and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia“ (you can read the whole article here: The authors concluded: “Our study demonstrates that low and moderate alcohol consumption was associated with lower fibromyalgia symptoms and better QOL compared to no alcohol consumption. The reasons for these results are unclear. Since recent studies have demonstrated that γ-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) levels are low in fibromyalgia, and alcohol is known to be a GABA-agonist, future studies should examine whether alcohol could have a salutary effect on pain and other symptoms in fibromyalgia.“
Sorry, I can’t agree with this conclusion.
The authors themselves saw some limitations of their study. Self-reported amounts of alcohol consumption may be biased (possible under-reporting). “Alcohol consumption levels were defined as follows: none, 0 drinks/wk; low, ≤3 drinks/wk; moderate, >3 to 7 drinks/wk; heavy, >7 drinks/wk.” The study fails to differentiate in between the types of alcoholic beverages. The study has too small sample sizes for moderate and heavy alcohol consumption: None (n= 546), Low (n= 338), Moderate (n= 31), Heavy(n= 31). “However, the reasons for, and the clinical importance of this association cannot be determined in this study, and the associations may be due to unmeasured confounding variables.” This should have gone into the conclusion!

I hope this study stimulates further studies on GABA levels and its implications in fibromyalgia patients. If you like to have a drink in company, I wouldn’t object and tell you not to do so. But don’t start drinking alcohol as a treatment of fibromyalgia!

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