Early menopause linked to milder arthritis

A new scientific report has found that early menopause could be associated with a milder form of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

The work, presented today at EULAR 2012, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, examined the records of 134 incident RA cases.

It revealed that patients aged over 45 years with a history of early menopause were 50 per cent less likely to develop severe RA and more likely to develop a moderate rheumatoid factor negative phenotype.

The research also ascertained that there was no major difference in RA severity depending on oral contraceptive use or history of breast feeding.

Lead study author Dr Mitra Pikwer from Skane University Hospital, Sweden said: "We already know that hormonal factors may influence the risk of RA, but this is the first study we know of that investigates the impact of menopausal age on the severity of RA."

She believes this is an important breakthrough which could help doctors to understand the impact that hormones may have on the development of the debilitating condition.