Non-contraceptive hormones and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in menopausal women

Int J Epidemiol. 1994 Dec;23(6):1248-55. doi: 10.1093/ije/23.6.1248.


Background: Several reproductive factors appear to affect a women's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. This study's purpose was to determine whether use of non-contraceptive hormones is among them.

Methods: A population-based case-control study was conducted in King County, Washington and Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, a prepaid health plan. New cases of rheumatoid arthritis in peri- or postmenopausal women (n = 135) were verified through clinical examination and compared with 592 controls. Both groups were interviewed in person about hormone use and demographic and reproductive factors.

Results: The age-adjusted relative risk (RR) among women who had ever used non-contraceptive oestrogens was 1.04 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.70-1.55), and among women who had ever used progestins it was 0.66 (95% CI: 0.40-1.08). For current users of oestrogen only, the RR was 0.97 (95% CI: 0.62-1.53), and among current users of oestrogen plus progestin it was 0.81 (95% CI: 0.45-1.45). Multivariate analyses yielded similar results. There was little evidence of a dose-response relationship with duration of use or with frequency of progestin use.

Conclusions: Use of non-contraceptive oestrogens appears to have little effect on the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in menopausal women. There may be a modest reduction in risk among progestin users.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / etiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Combinations
  • Estrogens / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Progestins / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Drug Combinations
  • Estrogens
  • Progestins