6 Million Person-Years of Data Links Smoking to RA
The data just keeps piling up that smoking cessation is one of the most powerful steps patients can take to prevent rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
A new multicenter research study that looked at…wait for it…6 million person-years of data put yet another nail in the smoking coffin. The study, titled, “Impact and timing of smoking cessation on reducing risk for rheumatoid arthritis among women in the Nurses’ Health Studies,” appeared in the February 21, 2019 edition of Arthritis Care and Research.
Co-author Jeffrey A. Sparks, M.D., M.M.Sc., assistant professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, explained the purpose of the study to OTW, “Previous research found that past and current smokers had increased risk for RA compared to those who never smoked. However, it was unclear whether a behavior change of quitting smoking might affect RA risk.”
The study research team looked at data from 230,732 women and identified 1,528 incident RA cases (63.4% seropositive) during 6,037,151 person‐years of follow‐up analysis.
Dr. Sparks summarized the entire effort to OTW this way: “We found that quitting smoking did lower the risk for RA, but only for the seropositive type with autoantibodies detectable in the blood. Ours is the first study showing that a behavior change, rather than only genetics or bad luck, may actually reduce RA risk.”
“These results provide evidence for those at increased RA risk to quit smoking since this may delay or even prevent the onset of RA. This also provides more evidence that smoking may play a key role in the pathogenesis of seropositive RA.”
“Our findings provide another way to educate smokers about the benefits of quitting for patients who have relatives with RA or are at high risk due to positive autoantibodies.”