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Vegan Diet May Protect Those with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis patients on vegan diet had lower LDL and oxidized LDL, other improvements

THURSDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- People with rheumatoid arthritis who ate a vegan diet showed potentially atheroprotective changes in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and oxidized LDL cholesterol and levels of anti-phosphorylcholine (anti-PC) IgM and IgA, researchers report in the March 18 issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Ann-Charlotte Elkan, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues analyzed data from a group of adults with rheumatoid arthritis who were randomized to a gluten-free vegan diet or balanced non-vegan diet. Thirty patients in the vegan group and 28 in the other group adhered to their diets for at least three months and were included in the analysis.

In the vegan group, body mass index, LDL cholesterol and cholesterol were decreased after three and 12 months, and oxidized LDL after three months, the investigators found. IgA anti-PC increased after three months, and IgM anti-PC showed a trend toward increase after 12 months. Anti-PC IgM levels have been found to inversely correlate with atherosclerosis development in humans, the report indicates.

"Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have increased cardiovascular disease and mortality. Several recent studies indicate an increased prevalence not only of cardiovascular disease but also of atherosclerosis as determined by ultrasound of carotid arteries. The underlying mechanisms causing this increased risk are not wholly clarified but inflammation and disease duration are suggested to be of importance," the authors write.

One of the study co-authors has a financial relationship with a biotechnology company that develops antibody assays against PC and is a coinventor on anti-PC patents.

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