Study Shows Decaf May Increase Women’s Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis

Drinking decaffeinated coffee may increase your risk developing rheumatoid arthritis if you’re an older woman, according to research presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting.

In a prospective study involving older women from the Iowa Women’s Health Study, women who reported consuming 4 or more cups of decaffeinated coffee per day were more than twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis during the course of the follow-up. In contrast, large amounts of tea intake (greater than 3 cups a day) were associated with an approximate 60% reduction in risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

“Given the global popularity of both coffee and tea intake, coupled with the societal costs related to rheumatoid arthritis, these findings may have an important public health impact if confirmed by other investigators,” said Ted R. Mikuls, MD, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama-Birmingham, and an investigator in the study.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating disease that affects 1 percent of the adult population. Although not fatal, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, damage, and loss of function in many joints as well as inflammation in other body organs. More than 75 percent of cases occur in women. It usually develops during childbearing years but can also begin in late adulthood.

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