Researchers find links between lifestyle and the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis
Researchers in Manchester have found a link between
several lifestyle factors and pre-existing conditions, including
smoking cigarettes and diabetes, and an increased risk of
developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
is a chronic disease which affects around 0.8% of the population;
and its causes are of great interest to the medical world. Research
led by Professor Ian Bruce, NIHR Senior Investigator and Professor
of Rheumatology at The University of Manchester and consultant at
Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust,
looked into the association between lifestyle factors and the risk
of developing RA.
The research group at the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology,
which is part of the
National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Manchester
Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, looked at a sample of
over 25,000 people, aged 40-79 years old who have been followed
over a number of years to discover if lifestyle factors had an
affect on developing the disease.
When they compared 184 participants who went on to develop
arthritis to those who did not, they found that smoking, obesity
and having diabetes all increased the risk. It was also found that
drinking a small amount of alcohol and being in a higher social
class were associated with a reduced risk of developing the
The study, funded by Arthritis Research UK, also examined gender
specific factors and found women who had more than two children and
breastfed for a shorter amount of time also had a higher risk of
The research team also conclude that this information could be
used to develop a simple screening tool, used by GPs and primary
care workers, to identify patients with a higher risk of developing
RA who could be offered advice to reduce their risk.
Professor Ian Bruce commented, "The factors we studied give us
vital clues to the early events in the process that ends in someone
developing RA. They are also simple to ask about and can be used as
part of a prevention programme. Our new wave of funding from the
Medical Research Council and National Institute of Health Research
has allowed us to move forward to the next stage in our attempt to
prevent the development of this distressing condition."
This research is supported by the Manchester Biomedical Research
The paper associated with
this press release was published in the Annals of the Rheumatic
Diseases (ARD) on 17 March 2013.