Can Smoking Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Everyone is aware of health dangers associated with smoking. According to the latest research, smoking is also responsible for developing Rheumatoid Arthritis. Chances of smokers to develop RA are higher when compared to ex-smokers and non-smokers.


Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a joint disease and smoking basically is nicotine addiction. Do you find any relation between them? No! You might say that there are other health problems caused due to smoking. But the recent research shows that there is a link between arthritis and smoking. The research study found that the concentration of rheumatoid factor was higher in the case of smoking rheumatoid arthritis patients.

In RA, your immune system gets weaken and it affects your joints, especially feet and hands. RA is characterized by inflammation, pain, stiffness and in severe cases it results in deformity. It is observed that RA is more common among women as compared to men. There are many reasons like genetic factors, environmental factor or Rheumatoid Factor (RF) responsible for the development of the RA. RF is an autoantibody present in the blood of rheumatoid arthritic patients. With the increase in concentration of RF in blood, the severity of RA also increases.

The Real Link Between RA and Smoking

According to the research study smoking rheumatoid arthritic people are more likely to be RF positive. The study also states that the concentration of RF is higher in case of RA people who smoked for longer. As told before higher concentration means severe RA. The research showed that the damage caused to the body by RA was severe in case of people who smoked for more than 20 years.

Another research study was conducted on people who smoked but did not suffer from RA. They found that even they had high concentration of RF in blood as compared to non smokers. The research finding suggests that smoking increases the probability of developing RA by increasing the RF concentration. Researchers are keeping a track of people on whom research was conducted to check whether they develop RA.

Other Factors Responsible for RA

Researchers are unable to understand the effect of smoking on RA completely. They agree on this fact that smoking has an adverse impact on the sex hormones and immune system. It has been observed that smokers have abnormal White Blood Cells (WBC). These cells are the key component in protecting body from inflammations and infection. Hence researchers concluded that there are numerous factors related to smoking that might contribute in the development of RA. There are various genetic factors which interact with various environmental factors to cause RA.

Risk for Smokers

Still the exact mechanism for the relation of RA and smoking is unknown, but researchers are sure about the connection between two of them. Research study indicates that the chances of RA in smoking women are twice as compared to non-smoking women. It also indicates that the chances of RA development in ex-smokers are lower as compared to current smokers but higher when compared to people who never smoked.

Reduce RA Pain with Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation is effective in relieving from pain and stiffness associated to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). At the annual meeting of American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco, researchers presented the evidences that smoking cessation relieves from RA symptoms. Generally people suffering from RA experience joint inflammation, stiffness, tender joints and severe joint pain.

In a news release Mark Fisher, MD, MPH, New York University Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Disease said: “While these results are preliminary, it seems that quitting smoking, which would have many other health benefits, also may benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis. RA patients who stop smoking may see an improvement in the number of joints that hurt them every day and in how they feel overall.”

Further he said that an extensive research study is to be conducted so as to find the exact relation between rheumatoid arthritis and smoking. Earlier research study showed that smoking increases the possibility and severity of RA. Whereas smoking cessation had positive impact on disease like coronary artery disease, emphysema etc.

How was the Research Study Conducted?

Researchers observed 1,045 smokers who were suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Out of the total individuals 21.2% of them had quit smoking. Researchers mainly concentrated in the change in the Clinical Disease Activity Index score. This Clinical Disease Activity Index provides the information related to the degree of joint damage and disease activity.

Researchers found that Clinical Disease Activity Index score was higher in active smokers as compared to those who had quit smoking. The severity of the disease like number of swollen and tender joints was less among the 21.1% of people who had quit smoking.

Conclusion

After constant and continuous observations, researchers finally came to a conclusion that smoking cessation reduces the disease activity in people suffering from RA. Smoking cessation not only relieves from the pain associated to RA but it also reduces the number of tender and swollen joints.

If you are a smoker, say good bye to smoking and reduce the chances of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Does Smoking Slow Down Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Smoking slows down rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Well! The statement in itself is a little misleading. This is because, one of the biggest risk factors of developing rheumatoid arthritis is smoking cigarettes. A recent research conducted at the University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland, by Dr. Alex Finckh discovered that people suffering from RA who smoked heavily in fact, were found to slow the progression of joint destruction. Let us look at the research that confirms this statement in detail.

The research conducted by Dr. Finckh involved 2000 RA patients who were studied over a period of three years. These patients were in their fifties (early to mid only). Among the 2000 patients, 1459 of them were non-smokers. Among the rest, while 489 patients smoked moderately, 55 patients were put in the category of heavy smokers (based on the fact that they smoked at least one pack of cigarettes in a day).

  • Upon assessing the X-rays and the questionnaires that the RA patients were asked to answer about their functional disabilities, it was observed that in non-smokers and those who smoked moderately the rate at which the joint were progressive getting damaged was similar. But, when these rates were compared with the 55 heavy smokers’ rates, the rate of progressive joint damage was slowed down.
  • Dr. Finckh opined that it is the anti-inflammatory property that nicotine possesses that could be slowing down the progression of joint damage in the heavy smokers. He also believes that more studies are required to understand the influence of smoking on the progressive rates of joint damage.
  • Since, smoking slows down rheumatoid arthritis progression, it in no way means that this is remedy for sufferers, for the health disadvantages associated with smoking outweigh this yet to be studied benefit. RA is known to cause premature death in many, at the same time, smoking leads to several cardiovascular diseases and even cancer which can prove to be fatal. Moreover, smoking increases the risk of developing the condition as well.