Women can reduce their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by eating a healthy diet, study presented at 2015 ACR/ARHP shows.
Does adhering to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010 (AHEI-2010) affect women’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis? Researchers including Bing Lu of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School focused on this issue in a study he presented on Nov. 9 at the 2015 ACR/ARHP annual meeting in San Francisco.
The study focused on young and middle-aged women’s conformity to these dietary guidelines, and their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. They used data from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), a large prospective cohort study started in 1989 which included 116,430 female registered nurses ages 25-42. Rheumatoid arthritis cases were self-reported and then confirmed with connective tissue disease screening questionnaire and medical records review, using 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria. The study obtained dietary data from validated food frequency questionnaires, given at baseline and then every four years at follow-up.
Researchers noted that the Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010 is based on foods/nutrients regularly associated with lower risk of chronic disease, and include 11 food/nutrient types (vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes, whole grains, sugar-sweetened drinks, trans-fat percentages of energy, red/processed meats, alcohol, sodium, long-chain omega-3 fats and polyunsaturated fats). They rated the food questionnaires based on points for the different food items and the patients’ daily intake.
The data revealed 347 rheumatoid arthritis cases (215 seropositive, 132 seronegative). Researchers found that those who better adhered to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010 had a reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Those in the highest quartile of the index had 33% reduced risk (HR=0.67, 95% confidence interval 0.49-0.91) compared to those in the lowest quartile (p-trend 0.006).
In an interview, Lu said that the results of the study can’t be extended to men, as rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a women’s disease and the study focused only on women. “Future studies on men are needed,” he said.
Researchers said their results also suggested that diet plays a role in the risk of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis development but that further research was necessary to confirm the findings.
"Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis in Young and Middle-Aged Women," Bing Lu. Nov. 9, 2015. ACR/ARHP 2015.