A new study has pointed towards a higher risk for women to suffer rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than men.
The research team led by Tuulikki Sokka from the Jyvaskyla Central Hospital, Finland has shown that women report more severe symptoms, greater disability, and often have higher work disability rates than men.
"The possible influence of gender and gender-related variables on the symptoms, severity, and prognosis of rheumatoid arthritis has been of considerable interest for some time," said Sokka.
In the study involving more than 6,000 RA patients, women had higher scores indicating poorer status than men in all of the key measures, the gender gap being widest in the self-reported measures.
According to Sokka, "Obvious differences between genders exist in the prevalence, age at onset, and level of production of harmful arthritis autoantibodies."
"Women have less strength than men, which has as much of a major effect in the functional status of patients with RA as it does in the healthy population.
"Given that woman is the "weaker vessel" concerning musculoskeletal size and strength and her baseline values are lower than men's, the same burden of a musculoskeletal disease may appear to be more harmful to a woman than to a man," she added.
The study is published in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.