Pizza and related food items show favorable effects on RA disease activity

A significant public health concern revolves around the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with patients and clinicians consistently seeking new approaches to alleviate the burden of this disease. In a recent study, researchers observed a favorable effect of pizza-related food items/groups on the more severe forms of RA. 

The cross-sectional study conducted by Dr. Roberta De Vito and her colleagues investigated the effects of pizza-related food items/groups in mitigating the activity of RA. Remarkably, there has been no prior research investigating how pizza and its ingredients influence RA disease activity. The study employed tertile consumption categories for each pizza-related food item/group—namely, pizza, refined grains, mozzarella cheese, and olive oil—as independent variables in multiple robust linear and logistic regression models. The various measures of RA activity, including the Disease Activity Score on 28 joints with C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP) and the Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI), were used as dependent variables. Stratified analyses were performed based on the severity or duration of the disease. 

The results indicated significant reductions in disease activity, with a 70% reduction observed in the overall analysis and an 80% reduction in the more severe stratum. Additionally, the beta coefficients were found to be significant: 0.70 for DAS28-CRP and 3.60 for SDAI in the overall analysis, and 1.10 and 5.30 in cases of long-standing and more severe RA, respectively. Participants who consumed half a pizza more frequently, compared to those who did so less frequently, reported positive effects on their health. 

A 2004 hospital-based case-control study involving 506 cases of nonfatal acute myocardial infarction has demonstrated that several pizza toppings can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The multivariate odds ratios for occasional, regular, and frequent eaters were 0.78, 0.62, and 0.44, respectively. The estimations were consistent across age, sex, smoking, and other significant variables strata. However, the findings cannot be explained by a single determinant. Indeed, the Italian diet has been found to offer potential cardiovascular advantages, and pizza may be a general indicator of this diet. 

Using the data from an integrated network of case-control studies conducted in Italy between 1991 and 2000, experts investigated the potential influence of pizza consumption on cancer risk in 2003. Among the subjects, there were 598 instances of cancer occurring in the oral cavity and pharynx, 304 cases in the esophagus, 460 cases in the larynx, 1,225 cases in the colon, and 728 cases in the rectum. The control group consisted of 4,999 individuals admitted to the same hospital network as the cases but for acute non-neoplastic conditions. Individuals who were regular consumers of pizza demonstrated odds ratios of 0.66 (95% confidence interval, CI = 0.47-0.93) for pharyngeal and oral cancer, 0.41 (95% CI = 0.25-0.69) for esophageal cancer, 0.82 (95% CI = 0.56-1.19) for laryngeal cancer, 0.74 (95% CI = 0.61-0.89) for colon cancer, and 0.93 (95% CI = 0.75-1.17) for rectal cancer. As a result, based on this cohort, the consumption of pizza seems to be a good indicator of risk for digestive tract neoplasms. 

However, it is important to note that these findings should be interpreted cautiously, and further research is necessary to establish a concrete causal relationship between pizza consumption and reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The studies highlight the complex interplay between diet, lifestyle, and health outcomes, and emphasize the potential benefits of adopting a dietary pattern akin to the traditional Italian diet 


  1. De Vito R, Parpinel M, Speciani MC, Fiori F, Bianco R, Caporali R, Ingegnoli F, Scotti I, Schioppo T, Ubiali T, Cutolo M. Does Pizza Consumption Favor an Improved Disease Activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis?. Nutrients. 2023 Aug 4;15(15):3449. 
  2. Gallus S, Tavani A, La Vecchia C. Pizza and risk of acute myocardial infarction. European journal of clinical nutrition. 2004 Nov;58(11):1543-6. 
  3. Gallus S, Bosetti C, Negri E, Talamini R, Montella M, Conti E, Franceschi S, La Vecchia C. Does pizza protect against cancer?. International journal of cancer. 2003 Nov 1;107(2):283-4.