The Effect of Stopping Smoking on Disease Activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Data from BARFOT, a Multicenter Study of Early RA

Open Rheumatol J. 2012;6:303-9. doi: 10.2174/1874312901206010303. Epub 2012 Oct 19.


Objective: We studied the effect of stopping smoking on disease activity in patients with RA.

Methods: Between 1992 and 2005, 2,800 adult patients were included in the BARFOT early RA study in Sweden. Disease Activity Score 28 joints (DAS28), C-reactive protein (CRP), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), rheumatoid factor (RF), anti-CCP, general health and pain visual analog scales (VAS), EULAR response and treatment were registered at inclusion and at follow-up 2, 5 and 8 years. In 2010, a self-completion postal questionnaire was sent to 2,102 patients, enquiring about lifestyle factors, including cessation of smoking.

Results: A total of 1,460 adult RA patients with disease duration ≤2 years were included in this study. Seventeen percent smoked in 2010. In total, 127 patients stopped smoking after inclusion in the study. Smoking cessation after inclusion in the study was negatively associated with EULAR good outcome at 8 years (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.22-0.86, p=0.02), controlled for age, disease duration, sex, socioeconomic class, smoking status, RF, and DAS28 at inclusion.

Conclusion: Seventeen percent of the RA patients smoked in 2010 in this large Swedish RA cohort. Stopping smoking after onset of RA did not change the poor prognosis of smokers with RA, but all RA patients need to stop smoking because of the high risk of cardiovascular mortality and morbidity and the association of smoking with vasculitis and noduli in RA.