Study suggests that smoking is responsible for every third of all cases of severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study was conducted by Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and included more than 2,000 people.
They found that people who smoked heavily i.e. at least 20 cigarettes per day for at least 20 years were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to test positive for anticitrullinated protein/peptide antibody (ACPA). This antibody is closely associated with the most common and severe form of RA. Smoking accounted for 35% of ACPA-positive cases of RA, and a 1/5 of all cases of RA. Among people with a genetic pre-disposition to rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers concluded that smoking was responsible for 55% of ACPA positive cases. They found that the risk of RA diminished once the person quit smoking.
Jane Tadman, from Arthritis Research UK, said, "We've also known for some time that lifestyle factors such as smoking, and also eating a lot of red meat and drinking large amounts of caffeine may also affect the risk of developing the disease." There is very little one can do about changing the genetic make-up. Therefore it makes sense to reduce other risk factors. To stop smoking is one way to do so. Today this report has been published online in the British Medical Journal's Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.