Low Levels of Vitamin D May Be Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Women living at northern latitudes are at higher risk for being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, according to study results published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Environmental Health Perspectives

Women living at northern latitudes are at higher risk for being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, according to study results published online in the journal .

Researchers believe it may be the result of the lack of sunshine found, which corresponds to a lower level of vitamin D.

The study, led by researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health, included an innovative spatial-temporal spatial analysis and examined data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-term cohort study of U.S. female nurses. Researchers examined data from 1988 to 2002 on 461 women with RA and compared their health outcomes and behavioral risks with data from a large control group of 9,220 women.

Previous studies have shown vitamin D deficiency to be associated with various autoimmune diseases.

"A geographic association with northern latitudes has also been observed for multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease, other autoimmune diseases that may be mediated by reduced vitamin D from decreased solar exposure and the immune effects of vitamin D deficiency," wrote the authors, including Dr. Verónica Vieira, MS, DSc, associate professor of environmental health, in the paper.

The researchers were interested in performing the study, originally, to examine whether there was a correlation with RA and air-pollution, they said, in a press release.

Previously, Viera and co-authors have performed a similar study on the incidence of breast cancer.