A new study presented at EULAR 2012, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, shows that early menopause predicts a milder form of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The study identified patients who answered a questionnaire in a community based health survey (conducted between 1991 and 1996) and later developed RA. Information on hormonal predictors including breastfeeding history, history of oral contraceptive use and menopausal age (early menopause ≤45 years or normal/late menopause > 45 years) was obtained via the questionnaire. By a structured review of the patients medical records, relevant information such as use of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) including biological treatment, radiographic erosions, rheumatoid factor (RF) status as well as Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ*) data was collected. These variables were added to the SPSS TwoStep Cluster Analysis in order to reveal natural groupings of RA severity. RA is a chronic inflammatory disease with female predominance. Hormonal factors such as breastfeeding history, use of oral contraceptives and menopausal age have all been suggested to influence the risk of RA. As yet the underlying mechanisms and their impact on disease progression are unknown.
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ii Englund M, Jöud A, Geborek P et al. Prevalence and incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in southern Sweden 2008 and their relation to prescribed biologics. Rheumatology 2010; 49: 1563-9.