Smoking has already been shown to be a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis. But a new study, presented this morning at ACR, expands the evidence against tobacco by finding that RA patients who quit smoking had significantly less disease activity than patients who continued to smoke. The research was based on a registry of 1,405 patients.
Being overweight, on the other hand, increases your risk for osteoarthritis. Swedish researchers compared BMI to likelihood of receiving a knee or hip replacement due to arthritis and they found that the more you weigh, the better the chance that you'll need a joint replaced. The finding held true even in the normal weight population, and when controlled for inflammatory and metabolic factors. The findings make it pretty clear that the greater joint load placed on the hips and knees of overweight people is responsible for the arthritis, said the study author. He recommended diet and exercise, although he wasn't terribly optimistic that patients would be leaping off their couches based on the study. "Maybe we need to work at this for 10 or 20 or 30 years," he said.