TUESDAY, March 10, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are associated with an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a study published online March 4 in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Julia A. Ford, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues performed a prospective cohort study involving 205,153 women in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHSII to examine whether asthma or COPD were associated with RA.

During 4,384,471 person-years of follow-up, the researchers identified 15,148 women with confirmed asthma; 3,573 with confirmed COPD; and 1,060 incident RA cases. Compared with no asthma/COPD, after adjustment for covariates, including smoking pack-years/status, asthma was associated with increased RA risk (hazard ratio, 1.53). Among never-smokers only, asthma remained associated with increased RA risk (hazard ratio, 1.53). COPD was also associated with elevated RA risk (hazard ratio, 1.89). In the subgroup of ever-smokers aged >55 years, the associations of COPD with RA were most pronounced (hazard ratio, 2.20).

“These novel findings further implicate chronic airway inflammation in the pathogenesis of RA, and they identify populations at-risk for RA for the purposes of research as well as informing clinical care,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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