Is Hand Osteoarthritis Associated With BMI, Smoking, or Alcohol Consumption?

A close-up of a cigarette in a man's hand
A close-up of a cigarette in a man’s hand
Researchers examined alcohol consumption, smoking status, and body mass index as variables impacting patients' risk of osteoarthritis development or progression.

Prevalence and progression of hand osteoarthritis (OA) was associated with alcohol consumption, but not smoking or overweight or obesity, according to research published in The Journal of Rheumatology.1

A total of 1232 participants from a subset of the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) were included, with 4-year follow-up data for 994 participants. In studies on incident hand OA, only individuals without hand OA at baseline were evaluated (n=406). Exposure variables included overweight/obesity (body mass index, waist circumference); smoking (current/former, pack-years); and alcohol consumption (number of drinks/week). The investigators used linear and logistic analyses to examine the possible association between these baseline exposure variables and radiographic hand OA severity, erosive hand OA, incidence of hand OA, and radiographic changes observed among participants.

The results of the analysis demonstrated that being overweight or obese was not associated with hand OA. In cross-sectional analyses, current smoking was associated with less hand OA, whereas longitudinal analyses suggested a higher likelihood of incident OA among current smokers (odds ratio, 2.20; 95% CI, 1.02-4.77). Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a higher Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) sum score at baseline (1-3 drinks weekly: 1.55; 95% CI, 0.43-2.67) and an increasing KL sum score during 4-year follow-up (4-7 drinks weekly: 0.33; 95% CI, 0.01-0.64). Moderate alcohol consumption (1-7 drinks weekly) was associated with a 2-fold higher risk for erosive hand OA (P <.05).

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The investigators concluded that being overweight or obese is not associated with hand OA. Divergent results were reported for smoking and hand OA, suggesting the lack of a relationship. Because moderate alcohol consumption was associated with hand OA severity, radiographic changes, and erosive OA, additional research is warranted.

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  1. Haugen IK, Magnusson K, Turkiewicz A, Englund M. The prevalence, incidence, and progression of hand osteoarthritis in relation to body mass index, smoking, and alcohol consumption. J Rheumatol. 2017;44(9):1402-1409.

This article originally appeared on Rheumatology Advisor