Study: Smoking Raises Mortality Risk in RA Patients

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who currently smoke have a higher risk of all-cause mortality and death from circulatory disease and lung cancer, according to new research.

Patients with RA have high smoking rates and higher mortality rates over specified time periods than the general population. Therefore, researchers wanted to investigate the impact of smoking on mortality rates in these patients.

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To investigate this connection, researchers analyzed the electronic health records of 5677 patients from the United Kingdom who had RA and were registered in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

Researchers recorded each patient’s time-varying smoking status, years of cessation, and amount smoked; recorded date and cause of death from the Office for National Statistics; and used Cox and Fine-Gray regression to investigate all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality, respectively.

Of the total cohort, 40% were never smokers, 34% were former smokers, and 26% were current smokers.

After follow-up, researchers found that patients with RA who were current smokers had an increased risk of all-cause mortality and death from circulatory disease and lung cancer than those who never smoked.

In addition, the risk of all-cause mortality was reduced with each year of smoking cessation.

“Current smoking is associated with an increased risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and lung cancer mortality in patients with RA,” researchers concluded. “Each year of cessation is associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality. This information may prove helpful in smoking cessation programmes for patients with RA.”

—Amanda Balbi


Joseph RM, Movahedi M, Dixon WG, Symmons DPM. Smoking-related mortality in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: a retrospective cohort study using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink [published online March 18, 2016]. Arthritis Care Res. doi:10.1002/acr.22882.