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Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1997 Jun;26(6):817-23.

Oral contraceptives and rheumatoid arthritis: results from a primary care-based incident case-control study.

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  • 1Arthritis and Rheumatism Council Epidemiology Research Unit, University of Manchester Medical School, England, UK.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The possibility that oral contraceptives offer a protective effect against the development of rheumatoid arthritis is still contentious. Of the 17 studies investigating this association, 11 have found a protective effect, and 6 have not. These differences are probably attributable to either selection or information biases in a subset of studies, although the exact reason is unknown. To overcome the methodological problems inherent in the design of previous studies, we have conducted a population-based case-control study.

METHODS:

Women who were incident cases of inflammatory polyarthritis, defined as swelling of at least two joint areas lasting at least 4 weeks, were recruited directly from primary care and compared with age-matched women from the same population.

RESULTS:

Cases and controls reported a similar level of "ever use" of oral contraceptives, adjusted odds ratio = 0.88 (95% confidence interval, 0.47, 1.64). The cases were, however, less likely to report using oral contraceptives at the time of onset, adjusted odds ratio = 0.22 (95% confidence interval, 0.06, 0.85). Similar results were observed for cases who satisfied the criteria for rheumatoid arthritis and cases who did not.

CONCLUSION:

These results indicate that only current oral contraceptive use protects against the development of inflammatory polyarthritis.

PMID:
9213380
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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