Oral contraceptives and rheumatoid arthritis: Further evidence for a preventive effect

J.P. Vandenbroucke, J.W. Boersma, J.J.M. Festen, H.A. Valkenburg, A. Cats, O. Huber-Bruning, J. J. Rasker

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To investigate a reported negative association between the use of oral contraceptives (OC) and the development of rheumatoid arthritis, a case-control study was undertaken to compare the histories of OC use between 228 women with a diagnosis of probable or definite rheumatoid arthritis and 302 women with the diagnosis of soft-tissue rheumatism and/or osteoarthritis. The use of OCs before the onset of joint complaints was acknowledged by 31·1% of the rheumatoid arthritis patients and by 55·6% of the controls. After adjustment for possible confounding variables, the rate ratio for ever use became 0·42 (95% confidence interval 0·27-0·65), while it was 0·40 (0·22-0·72) for ex-users and 0·45(0·28-0·75) for current users. These findings confirm the finding from the Royal College of General Practitioners Oral Contraceptive Study that the incidence rate of rheumatoid arthritis among OC users was halved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-842
Number of pages4
JournalThe Lancet
Issue number8303
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 1982
Externally publishedYes


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