Eating red meat may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis

ruction on measuring food portions to help them be as specific as possible in recording their intake. Each participant also supplied information on his or her past and present status as a smoker.

Patients were more likely to have been former smokers; only 35 percent of the patients had never smoked compared with 85 percent of the controls. In terms of dietary factors, patients and controls were similar in most areas, including intake of total calories, fat grams, and vitamin D, as well as coffee, tea, and alcohol consumption. Patients had a lower intake of vitamin C, although the association of this factor with disease risk was not as strong as it was in the team's previous study. The most striking difference between the two groups was directly related to red meat consumption. After adjusting for smoking and other possible dietary confounders, patients with the highest level of red meat consumption had a two-fold risk for the development of RA. Patients who consumed high levels of red meat combined with other meat products showed similar high risk levels. Interestingly, a higher level of protein intake from all dietary sources was also associated with an increased disease risk, while higher levels of dietary fats, including saturated fat, did not have an impact.

Routinely eating burgers and steak, however, may only influence people with a predisposition for RA. "It may be that the high collagen content of meat leads to collagen sensitization and consequent production of anticollagen antibodies, most likely in a subgroup of susceptible individuals," the authors note. "Meat consumption may be linked to either additives or even infectious agents, but, again, there is no evidence as to what might be important in relation to RA."

"A high level of red meat consumption may represent a novel risk factor for inflammatory arthritis or may act as a marker for a group of persons with an increased risk from other lifesty

Contact: Amy Molnar
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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