Background It has been suggested that smoking is associated with reduced risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA). However, supplementary studies are needed to further investigate any such potential association. Thus, our aim was to examine the relationship between smoking and early or more established knee OA in a cohort of relatively young patients with meniscal tears. Methods This cross-sectional study included 620 participants from the Knee Arthroscopy Cohort Southern Denmark (KACS) undergoing knee arthroscopy for a meniscal tear (mean age 49.2 (18.0–76.8) years). Recruitment of patients was performed between February 1, 2013, and January 31, 2015, at four different hospitals in Denmark. We defined early or more established knee OA as the combination of patient-reported frequent knee pain, degenerative meniscal tissue and presence of cartilage defects assessed by the operating surgeons. The relationship between smoking status and knee OA was examined by risk ratio (RR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI), estimated from logistic regression adjusted for age, sex, BMI, education, work status and level of physical activity. Results The prevalence of early or more established knee OA was 37.7% in current smokers and 45.0% in non-smokers. We found no statistically significant association between current smoking and knee OA (adjusted RR 1.09, 95% CI 0.91–1.30). Conclusions This study found no relationship between current smoking and early or more established knee OA in a cohort of patients undergoing arthroscopic meniscal surgery. Thus, the inverse association between smoking and knee OA that has been suggested by previous studies was not confirmed.
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