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Lifestyle Factors and Risk of Restless Legs Syndrome: Prospective Cohort Study.

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Study objectives

To examine the association between modifiable lifestyle factors, and the risk of developing restless legs syndrome (RLS).


This is a Prospective Cohort study of population including 12,812 men participating in Health Professionals Follow-up Study and 42,728 women participating in the Nurses' Health study II. The participants were free of RLS at baseline (2002 for the HPFS and 2005 for the NHS II) and free of diabetes and arthritis through follow-up. RLS was assessed via a set of questions recommended by International Restless Legs Syndrome Study group. The Information was collected on height, weight, level of physical activity, dietary intake, and smoking status via questionnaires.


During 4-6 years of follow-up, we identified 1,538 incident RLS cases. Participants with normal weight, and who were physically active, non-smoker, and had some alcohol consumption had a lower risk of developing RLS. When we combined the effects of these four factors together, we observed a dose response relationship between the increased number of healthy lifestyle factors and a low risk of RLS: after adjusting for potential confounders the pooled odds ratio was 0.67 (95% CI: 0.47-0.97) for 4 vs.0 healthy factors (p trend < 0.001). In contrast, we did not observe significant associations between caffeine consumption or diet quality as assessed by the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, and altered RLS risk in men and women.


Several modifiable lifestyle factors may play an important role in RLS risk.

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