Rheumatoidarthritis currently affects around 1% adults in the UK. Previousstudies have suggested that vitamin C and the pigmentbeta-cryptoxanthin, both of which are found in brightly-coloured fruitand veg, may act as antioxidants, and protect the body against theoxidative damage which can cause inflammation.
The Manchesterteam, based in the Arthritis Research Campaign's Epidemiology Unit,worked with researchers from the Institute of Public Health at theUniversity of Cambridge to analyse health questionnaires and dietdiaries by over 25000 45-74 year-olds; completed as part of the EPIC(European Prospective Investigation of Cancer) Norfolk study of dietand chronic disease in the 1990s. They then followed-up theparticipants over a nine year period to identify new cases ofinflammatory polyarthritis (IP), including rheumatoid arthritis.
DrDorothy Pattison, who led the research, said: "We found that theaverage daily beta-cryptoxanthin intake of the 88 patients who haddeveloped inflammatory polyarthritis was 40% lower than those whohadn't, and their intake of another carotenoid, zeaxanthin, was 20%lower.
"Those in the top third for beta-cryptoxanthin intake wereonly half as likely to develop IP as those in the lowest third, andvitamin C was also found to be an important factor."
The findingsappear to confirm previous evidence that a modest increase in fruit andvegetables containing beta-cryptoxanthin and vitamin C, equivalent toone glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice each day, might help toprotect against developing inflammatory joint diseases.
DrPattison has previously published research which found that both lowintakes of fruit and vegetables (in particular those high in vitaminC), and high levels of red meat consumption were associated with anincreased risk of developing IP.
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