Objectives: To analyse the association between dietary long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and incidence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in middle-aged and older women from the Swedish Mammography Cohort, a population-based prospective study.
Methods: Data on diet were collected in 1987 and 1997 via a self-administered food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). The risk of RA associated with dietary long-chain n-3 PUFAs and fish intake was estimated using Cox proportional hazard regression models, adjusted for age, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, use of aspirin and energy intake.
Results: Among 32 232 women born 1914-1948, 205 RA cases were identified during a mean follow-up of 7.5 years (1 January 2003 to 31 December 2010; 2 41 120 person-years). An intake of dietary long-chain n-3 PUFAs (FFQ1997) of more than 0.21 g/day (lowest quintile) was associated with a 35% decreased risk of developing RA (multivariable adjusted relative risk (RR) 0.65; 95% CI 0.48 to 0.90) compared with a lower intake. Long-term intake consistently higher than 0.21 g/day (according to both FFQ1987 and FFQ1997) was associated with a 52% (95% CI 29% to 67%) decreased risk. Consistent long-term consumption (FFQ1987 and FFQ1997) of fish ≥1 serving per week compared with<1 was associated with a 29% decrease in risk (RR 0.71; 95% CI 0.48 to 1.04).
Conclusions: This prospective study of women supports the hypothesis that dietary intake of long-chain n-3 PUFAs may play a role in aetiology of RA.
Keywords: Arthritis; Epidemiology; Rheumatoid Arthritis.
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