Smoking can increase arthritis risk

Smokers with a genetic predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis are fifteen times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared to non-smokers according to a new Swedish study.

The study involved 18 different rheumatological clinics around the country and 1906 patients. It was already known that smoking, as a single factor doubles the risk for the disease, however, the genetic predisposition makes the situation even graver.

RA is a systemic disease that affects the entire body and is one of the most common forms of arthritis. It is characterized by the inflammation of the membrane lining the joint, which causes pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling.

“This is the best motivation yet for people to stop smoking and by doing so, avoid contracting the illness,” commented Lars Klareskog, Professor at Karolinska Institutet and Consultant at Karolinska University hospital.

The researchers interviewed the participants about a whole range of lifestyle factors, including smoking. They interviewed patients who with RA as well as healthy people in the control group of the same age range and with the same sex as the RA patients.

In addition to that they took blood samples to analyse the genetic risk factors. It is estimated that some 50,000 Swedes suffer from RA, and most people are between the ages of 45 and 65 when they are first diagnosed.

Sources: Biotech Sweden,

Lysanne Sizoo

Lysanne Sizoo is a certified Counsellor, specialising in bereavement, fertility and cultural assimilation issues. She also runs a support and discussion group for English speaking women. You can contact her on [email protected], or 08 717 3769. More information on