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Specific Diets can Reduce Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Two Studies Found

Update Date: Nov 09, 2015 03:09 PM EST

Two new studies led by the same research team found that diet can contribute to people's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints.

In the first study, the team headed by Dr. Bing Lu, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, analyzed information on the diets of roughly 94,000 American women between the ages of 25 and 42. The participants had informed the team of their diet every four years starting in 1991 and ending in 2011. 350 women had developed rheumatoid arthritis during this time frame.

After comparing the different diets, the team found that women who followed the typical North American diet were more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than women who ate a diet that was high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, poultry and fish. A North American diet consists of red and processed meats, fried foods, refined grains and sugar.

"A healthy diet may prevent [rheumatoid arthritis] development, and our team is interested in conducting further studies to look at why diet is associated with this risk," Dr. Lu said.

In the second study, the researchers looked at data on another set of women to see if following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans can help lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis. These guidelines were created with the intention of getting people to make better decisions when it comes to food and encouraging people to stay physically active.

The researchers found that women who followed these guidelines were successful at reducing their risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

Even though both studies found a correlation and not causation, eating a healthier diet in general is good for the body.

Both studies were presented at the American College of Rheumatology meeting in San Francisco, California.

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