Mediterranean Diet May Protect Against Rheumatoid Arthritis

Previous research has demonstrated a variety of health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, cereals, fruit and vegetables, fish, and a moderate amount of dairy, meat, and wine. Now results from an analysis published in Arthritis & Rheumatology suggest that the diet may also help prevent rheumatoid arthritis in individuals who smoke or used to smoke.

The analysis included 62,629 women from France who have been taking part in a questionnaire-based study assessing dietary intake since 1990. In total, 480 women developed rheumatoid arthritis.

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was not associated with rheumatoid arthritis risk overall; however, among women who smoked or used to smoke, it was associated with a decreased risk: 383 cases of rheumatoid arthritis per 1 million people per year among those with high adherence to the Mediterranean diet, compared with 515 cases per 1 million people per year among those with low adherence to the diet. (Among women who never smoked and had high adherence to the diet, there were 358 cases per 1 million people per year.)

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