A Western Diet Shown to Increase Risk of RA by 57%

November 9, 2015

Can a person’s overall diet affect the development of rheumatoid arthritis? A new study shows that it can, especially for high-risk people.

Can a person’s overall diet affect the development of rheumatoid arthritis? This is what researchers focused on in a recent study of women’s eating patterns, with data presented by co-author Bing Lu on Nov. 9 at the 2015 ACR/ARHP annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif. While some specific dietary factors were previously identified by researchers as affecting the development of the disease, there hadn’t been research done on overall eating patterns, researchers reported.

Researchers used data from a large, prospective cohort called the Nurses’ Health Study II with 93,859 women. These women had no rheumatoid arthritis at baseline, and answered dietary questionnaires during the 1991-2001 time period. Researchers identified two eating patterns including the “Prudent” pattern (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, legumes and fish) and the “Western” pattern (lots of red meat, refined grains, processed meats, desserts and high fat dairy products).

Researchers then identified 626 cases of rheumatoid arthritis that developed during the two decade study. They found that the Prudent group was associated with a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, while the Western group was associated with a higher risk.

Lu said in an interview that the Western pattern can increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by 57%, while following the Prudent dietary pattern can reduce rheumatoid arthritis risk by 30%.

“For high risk people, such as first-grade relatives of rheumatoid arthritis patients, following a healthy diet with higher intake in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts, and a lower intake in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, and refined grains, may prevent rheumatoid arthritis development,” said Lu of Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

References:

"Prospective Study of Dietary Patterns and Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis in Women," Bing Lu. ACR 2015. Nov. 9, 2015 presentation.