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(HealthDay News) A healthier lifestyle is associated with lower rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk, according to a study published online Jan. 18 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Jill Hahn, Sc.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues used data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS; 1986 to 2016) and NHSII (1991 to 2017) to assess whether a healthy lifestyle was associated with RA risk.

The researchers found that a higher (healthier) healthy lifestyle index score was associated with lower overall RA risk (hazard ratio, 0.86) and lower risk for RA subtypes (hazard ratios for seropositive RA and seronegative RA, 0.85 and 0.87, respectively). The lowest risk was seen among women with five healthy lifestyle factors (hazard ratio, 0.42). Each additional healthy lifestyle behavior decreased RA risk by 13%. For adhering to four or more lifestyle factors, the population attributable risk was 34 percent for RA.

“Our finding that a high proportion (34 percent) of RA risk in the general female population is attributable to the confluence of modifiable lifestyle factors represents something of a paradigm shift in thinking about RA and autoimmune disease risk,” the authors write.

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