Ann Rheum Dis 67:530-535 doi:10.1136/ard.2007.072736
  • Extended report

Vitamin D intake and risks of systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis in women

  1. K H Costenbader1,2,
  2. D Feskanich1,
  3. M Holmes1,
  4. E W Karlson1,2,
  5. E Benito-Garcia3
  1. 1
    Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy, Section of Clinical Sciences, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  2. 2
    Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  3. 3
    BioEPI, Clinical and Translational Research Center, Taguspark, Núcleo Central, Oeiras, Portugal
  1. Karen H Costenbader, MD, MPH, 75 Francis St, Boston, MA 02115, USA; KCostenbader{at}
  • Accepted 27 July 2007
  • Published Online First 31 July 2007


Objectives: Vitamin D has immune-modulating effects and may protect against the development of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: We identified incident cases of SLE and RA among 186 389 women followed from 1980 to 2002 in the Nurses’ Health Study and Nurses’ Health Study II cohorts. We excluded subjects where SLE or RA was not confirmed by medical record review, and those who failed to return questionnaires. Semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaires assessed vitamin D intake from food and supplements. We used cumulative-updated total energy-adjusted dietary exposures for each 2-year cycle. Relationships between vitamin D intake and incident SLE and RA were examined in age-adjusted and Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for confounders. Results were pooled using meta-analysis random effects models.

Results: We confirmed 190 incident cases of SLE and 722 of RA with dietary information. Increasing levels of vitamin D intake had no relationship to the relative risk of developing either SLE or RA.

Conclusions: Vitamin D intake was not associated with risk of SLE or RA in these large prospective cohorts of women.


  • Funding: Supported by NIH grants AR42630, CA87969, R01 AR49880, K24 AR0524-01 and K12 HD051959. Dr Costenbader is the recipient of an Arthritis Foundation/American College of Rheumatology Arthritis Investigator Award.

  • Competing interests: None.