Allergic conditions and risk of rheumatoid arthritis: A Swedish case-control study

Vanessa L. Kronzer, Helga Westerlind, Lars Alfredsson, Cynthia S. Crowson, Lars Klareskog, Marie Holmqvist, Johan Askling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To determine the association of allergic conditions with incident rheumatoid arthritis (RA), especially in relation to smoking history and anti-citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA) status. Methods This case-control study included 3515 incident RA cases and 5429 matched controls from the Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis study 1995 to 2016, including questionnaire-based information on eight allergic conditions composed from a list of 59 unique allergies. We used logistic regression and adjusted ORs (aOR) to assess the association between allergic conditions and risk of RA, adjusting for age, sex, residential area, body mass index, education, and smoking, and stratified by smoking and ACPA. Results A history of any reported allergy was equally common in RA (n=1047, 30%) as among population controls (n=1540, 29%), aOR 1.04, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.15. Metal, respiratory, food, plant/pollen and chemical allergies were not associated with risk of RA. By contrast, statistically significant associations were observed for animal dander allergy (6% vs 5%, aOR 1.37, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.82), especially in ACPA-positive RA (aOR 1.46 95% CI 1.06 to 2.01) and for atopic dermatitis, in particular for older and ACPA-negative RA (aOR 2.33, 95% CI 1.37 to 3.96 at age 80). Never smokers with allergic rhinitis also had increased risk of developing RA (aOR 1.30, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.68). Conclusion Most common allergies do not increase risk of RA, nor do they protect against RA. However, some allergic conditions, notably animal dander allergy, atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis, were associated with an increased risk for RA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere002018
JournalRMD Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 15 2022


  • arthritis
  • epidemiology
  • immune system diseases
  • rheumatoid
  • rheumatoid factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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