Exposure to passive smoking in childhood and/or adulthood is associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This was found in the large prospective E3N-EPIC cohort study of French women. The effect is more pronounced in women who have actively smoked during their lives.
Active smoking is an established risk factor for RA. The role of passive smoking in the development of RA has not been studied thoroughly. The current analysis of the E3N-EPIC cohort study, presented by Dr Yann Nguyen (Université Paris-Saclay, France) aimed to fill this gap in the literature. The study included 79,806 women (mean age at baseline 49.0) and 698 incident RA cases have been identified since the initiation of the project in 1990.
At baseline, participants were asked whether they were exposed to passive smoking in their childhood or adulthood. A cox proportional hazards model was used to analyse the data. Passive smoking in childhood (non-cases 13.5% vs RA cases 16.3%) and adulthood (non-cases 53.6% vs RA 57.45%) were significantly associated with an increased risk of RA.
Among the participants exposed to passive smoking, the effect was larger for ever-smokers compared with never-smokers (absolute risk 53.67/100,000 per year vs 47.59/100,000 per year). Participants who were not exposed to passive smoking and never smoked had a later age of disease onset (mean age 66.5) compared with participants who were exposed to passive smoking (mean age 63.7), had actively smoked (mean age 63.4), or had been exposed to passive smoking and had actively smoked (mean age 62.3).
In addition, in the childhood passive smoking subgroup, ever-smokers had an earlier age of RA onset than never-smokers (mean age 60.6 vs 64.2). Dr Nguyen suggested that these results could be explained by a citrullination (deimination) effect of passive smoking in genetically predisposed individuals.
Nguyen Y, et al. Association between passive smoking in childhood and adulthood and rheumatoid arthritis: results from the French E3N-EPIC cohort study. OP0010, EULAR 2021 Virtual Congress, 2-5 June.