Does smoking cessation reduce rheumatoid arthritis risk?


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that sustained smoking cessation could delay or even prevent seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

Using data on 230,732 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS, 1976‐2014) and the NHSII (1989‐2015), they investigated the association between smoking cessation and RA risk. Among participants, 1,528 incident RA cases (63.4% seropositive) were identified during 6,037,151 person‐years of follow‐up. 

The researchers found that compared to never smoking, current smoking increased the risk for all RA and seropositive RA but not seronegative RA. Increasing smoking pack‐years was associated with increased trend of risk for all RA and seropositive RA.

However, a decreasing trend for all RA and seropositive RA was observed with increasing duration of smoking cessation. The risk of seropositive RA was reduced by 37 per cent for those who sustained smoking cessation for 30 years or more compared with those who recently stopped smoking. The authors noted a modestly elevated RA risk was still detectable even 30 years after quitting. 

Writing in Arthritis Care & Research, the authors said the results provide rationale for a smoking intervention trial among active smokers to prevent the formation of RA-related autoantibodies or to prevent the progression to RA among those at elevated risk for seropositive RA.