Journal Article

Antioxidant Micronutrients and Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis in a Cohort of Older Women

James R. Cerhan, Kenneth G. Saag, Linda A. Merlino, Ted R. Mikuls and Lindsey A. Criswell

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 157, issue 4, pages 345-354
Published in print February 2003 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online February 2003 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Antioxidant Micronutrients and Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis in a Cohort of Older Women

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The association of antioxidant vitamins and trace elements from foods and supplements with risk of rheumatoid arthritis was evaluated in a prospective cohort study of 29,368 women who were aged 55–69 years at baseline in 1986. Through 1997, 152 cases of rheumatoid arthritis were identified. After controlling for other risk factors, greater intakes (highest tertile vs. lowest) of supplemental vitamin C (relative risk (RR) = 0.70, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.48, 1.09; p-trend = 0.08) and supplemental vitamin E (RR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.47, 1.12; p-trend = 0.06) were inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis. There was no association with total carotenoids, α- or β-carotene, lycopene, or lutein/zeaxanthin, while there was an inverse association with β-cryptoxanthin (RR = 0.59, 95% CI: 0.39, 0.90; p-trend = 0.01). Greater use of supplemental zinc (RR = 0.39, 95% CI: 0.17, 0.88; p-trend = 0.03) was inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis, while any use of supplemental copper (RR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.28, 1.03) and manganese (RR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.23, 1.07) showed suggestive inverse associations with rheumatoid arthritis. Greater intakes of fruit (RR = 0.72, 95% CI: 0.46, 1.12; p-trend = 0.13) and cruciferous vegetables (RR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.42, 1.01; p-trend = 0.07) also exhibited trends toward inverse associations with risk. When the antioxidants were modeled together, only β-cryptoxanthin and supplemental zinc were statistically significant predictors. Intake of certain antioxidant micronutrients, particularly β-cryptoxanthin and supplemental zinc, and possibly diets high in fruits and cruciferous vegetables, may be protective against the development of rheumatoid arthritis.

Keywords: antioxidants; arthritis, rheumatoid; cohort studies; zinc; Abbreviations: ACR, American College of Rheumatology; CI, confidence interval; RR, relative risk.

Journal Article.  6615 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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