In an Arthritis Care & Research analysis of 230,732 women, those who quit smoking many years ago had a lower risk of a certain form of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with women who recently quit.
In the analysis, which included information from two large prospective cohorts with up to 38 years of follow-up, the risk of seropositive RA--when patients have antibodies in their blood that help identify the disease--was reduced by 37 percent for those who sustained smoking cessation for 30 or more years compared with those who recently quit smoking. Patients who have seropositive RA tend to have a more severe disease course with more joint deformities, disability, and inflammation outside of the joints. There was no association of smoking with seronegative RA, suggesting a different pathogenesis than seropositive RA.
"Our study is one of the first to show that a behavior change of prolonged smoking cessation may actually delay or even prevent the onset of seropositive RA, suggesting lifestyle changes may modify risk for development of a systemic rheumatic disease," said senior author Dr. Jeffrey Sparks, of Brigham and Women's Hospital.