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    Could OCs moderate arthritis outcomes?

    Oral contraceptives (OCs) may reduce the impact of inflammatory arthritis, according to a new study of patient-reported outcomes in Arthritis Care & Research.

    Funded by Pfizer, Germany, the researchers studied a cohort of 273 women aged 18 to 60 who had early inflammatory arthritis and had never taken hormone replacement therapy. Over a period of 2 years, they assessed associations between OC exposure—current/past/never—and disease activity, treatment, and patient outcomes, measured by Rheumatoid Arthritis Impact of Disease Score (RAID), the Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity Index (RADAI), the Profile of Mood and Discomfort (PROFAD) and the Hannover Functional Assessment (FFbH). Models were adjusted for age, body mass index, smoking, education, and parity.

    Next: Long-term benefits of OCs in cancer prevention

    Of the women, 18% had never used OCs, 63% had used OCs at some time in the past, and 19% were currently using them. After adjustment, current/past use of OCs was associated with better RAID, RADAI, PROFAD, and FFbH scores at 12 months (all P<0.05) than was never-use of OCs. Longitudinally, the average RAID scores were significantly better in those who used OCs, whether that use was current or in the past (P<0.001). More women who never used OCs took glucocorticoids than did women who currently used OCs or had used them in the past (P=0.08), a finding that was particularly true among those with impaired function (FFbH<70: OR 4.2 [1.6-11]).

    The researchers concluded that past or current use of OCs appears to ameliorate patient-reported outcomes in inflammatory arthritis. They speculated that the effects may be induced via central nervous system pathways rather than through suppression of peripheral inflammation.

    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.
    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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