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, Lindsey A. Criswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


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 (Cl): 0.48, 1.09; p-trend = 0.08) and supplemental vitamin E (RR = 0.72, 95% Cl: 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% Cl: 0.39, 0.90; p-trend = 0.01). Greater use of supplemental zinc (RR = 0.39, 95% Cl: 0.17, 0.88; p-trend = 0.03) was inversely associated with rheumatoid arthritis, while any use of supplemental copper (RR = 0.54, 95% Cl: 0.28, 1.03) and manganese (RR = 0.50, 95% Cl: 0.23, 1.07) showed suggestive inverse associations with rheumatoid arthritis. Greater intakes of fruit (RR = 0.72, 95% Cl: 0.46, 1.12; p-trend = 0.13) and cruciferous vegetables (RR = 0.65, 95% Cl: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2003


  • Antioxidants
  • Arthritis
  • Cohort studies
  • Rheumatoid
  • Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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