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Smoking found to double women's risk of arthritis

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Smoking cigarettes has never been considered healthy. Lung cancer, emphysema and high blood pressure are all connected to cigarette smoking. Now - researchers say that smoking just a few cigarettes a day more than doubles a woman's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The study, carried out by Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that women who smoked between one to seven cigarettes daily were more than twice as likely to develop the disease as those who had never smoked. Scientists also found that women remained twice as likely to develop the disease even 15 years after giving up smoking.

An autoimmune condition that causes the joints to become painful and swollen, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may subside for many months or even years before a flare-up, which can make movement difficult and very painful.

The affliction affects around 600,000 Britons and is most commons in women aged between 40 and 70. The condition can manifest itself at any age.

The study analyzed 34,101 women aged between 54 and 89. Of those, 219 suffered with the condition. The study proved that the risk of RA increased with the length of time the woman had been smoking.

Smoking for 25 years raised the risk 1.6 times compared with smoking for just one year.

Conversely, another popular "vice," drinking alcohol can reduce a person's chance of developing arthritis. These same researchers discovered that drinking five or more glasses of wine or beer a week can halve a person's chance of developing RA.

They found that people who consumed more than five units a week were up to 50 percent less likely to develop the disease. The biggest benefit was seen among some smokers who had a genetic risk of developing the arthritis.

Further research is still needed to explain the link, it is thought alcohol suppresses the immune system and reduces the inflammatory process behind the condition.

Another recent study suggested that women who are regularly exposed to sunlight are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy, the new research suggested that women can reduce their risk of developing the disease by a fifth by regularly exposing themselves to direct sun.

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