In the Journals

Study: Mediterranean diet not associated with risk of RA in women

No significant association was seen between the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women and the consumption of a Mediterranean-style diet, according to recently published research.

Researchers studied 83,245 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) between 1980 and 2008 and 91,393 participants in the NHS II between 1991 and 2009 who did not have connective tissue disease at baseline.

During the studies, dietary information was collected from participants about every 4 years through a validated questionnaire. A Mediterranean diet was defined by the regular consumption of nine food components using a cumulative average value. The criteria included consumption of vegetables (excluding potatoes), fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, red and processed meats, the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat and consumption of alcohol. Points were assigned for each variable to calculate a score that aligned with a Mediterranean diet.

Participants with scores that aligned with a Mediterranean diet tended to be older; were less likely to be current smokers; had higher levels of physical activity, median income and total energy intake; had lower BMI and were more likely to start menarche before turning 12 years of age.

Incident cases of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were identified in 913 participants after 3,511,050 person-years of follow-up. Analysis after adjusting for covariates such as age, smoking, comorbidities, physical activity and other variables, demonstrated no association between diet and the risk for RA, according to the researchers.

When each dietary component was analyzed, a modest association was seen between high intake of legumes and an increased risk for developing RA, whereas regular, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk. - by Shirley Pulawski

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.