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INTRODUCTION: Smoking is one of the few modifiable risk factors associated with the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Most published data are over 10 years old, and none included Mediterranean populations. We therefore took advantage of primary care routinely collected data to study the association between smoking and the development of RA in the general population of Catalonia, Spain. METHODS: We conducted a case-control study including all patients with a new diagnosis of RA registered in the SIDIAP database between 01/01/2008 and 31/12/2018; and matched them to up to 1:5 controls by age, gender and general practitioner. Smoking was classified by primary care staff into never, ex- or current smoking. Odds Ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the association between current and ex-smoking (compared to never smoking) and RA were estimated using conditional logistic regression adjusted for potential confounders. RESULTS: A total of 13,920 RA cases and 69,535 controls were included. Compared with never smokers, current and ex-smokers were at increased risk of RA, with adjusted OR of 1.28 [95% CI 1.20-1.37] and OR 1.19 [1.12-1.26] respectively. CONCLUSION: Our findings confirm an association between smoking and the risk of developing RA. The effect seems to prevail in the long-term and even in ex-smokers for 2 or more years after smoking cessation. More research is needed on the effects of smoking discontinuation on RA prevention and related outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article


Reumatol clin (engl ed)

Publication Date





566 - 569


Artritis reumatoide, Environment, Epidemiology, Epidemiología, Factores de riesgo, Medio ambiente, Rheumatoid arthritis, Risk factor, Smoking, Tabaco, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Case-Control Studies, Child, Ex-Smokers, Humans, Smoking, Smoking Cessation