Most of us know that smoking would lead to lung cancer. Not just lung cancer, but also, various other cardiovascular diseases as well. Apart from these two life threatening complications, smoking has been proven to be a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis. This very factor has led to many clinical studies to establish the connection between this chronic autoimmune disorder and smoking.
Ironically, it is not known to date, what causes smoking to increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, neither it is clear why even treatment in patients is affected if they are smoking during the course of it.
Rheumatoid Factor in Smokers: The Journal of Rheumatology published a report in its March, 2000 issue regarding the effect of smoking in rheumatoid arthritis patients. This report was the theory proposed by Dr. Frederick Wolfe, a specialist in Rheumatology and this also details the results of his research. The smoking effect was studied on the clinical, radiographic and laboratory fronts in the patients.
According to Dr. Wolfe's theory, the effect of smoking can be clearly studied provided the rheumatoid factor in these patients was studied separately.
Rheumatoid factor is not present in all the people. These are antibodies that bind themselves to other antibodies and trigger an autoimmune response. This factor is not present in all the people. Mostly aging people (about 20 percent) are known to contain elevated levels of this antibody that is responsible for a rheumatoid arthritis attack.
According to Dr. Wolfe, this factor would definitely have to be more in smokers and less in non-smokers to prove that smoking is a major risk factor of rheumatoid arthritis.
The Research Objectives: The prime objectives of Dr.Wolfe's study-
- determine elevated rheumatoid factor levels in smokers
- determining the quantitative effect of smoking
As part of the study, 640 patients who have been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis patients (consisting of both men and women) were taken into consideration.
Among the 640 patients, while 18 percent of them were current smokers, 28 percent were found to be past smokers.
The study found that smoking rheumatoid arthritis patients had a higher rheumatoid factor when compared to their non-smoking counterparts.
Also, the rheumatoid factor was found to be increasing in smokers of longer durations.
These elevated rheumatoid factor levels were increasing or elevated irrespective of the gender.
Thus, smoking definitely proves to have a negative impact on rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Effect of Smoking While Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis: Not just increasing the risks of arthritis, but smoking can also diminish the benefits and effects of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
The 2011 January issue of the American College of Rheumatology's journal, Arthritis and Rheumatism has published the results of a ten year long study which suggests that smoking can lessen the impact of drugs like methotrexate inhibitors of Tumour Necrosis Factors in Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers.
As part of the study, 1430 patients were studied at the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm, Sweden.
The study revealed that patients who smoked while on treatment were having either diminished effects of the drugs or were not responding to them. At the same time patients who smoked in their past and have given it up were not affected in any way.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that around 0.8 percent of the adults across the world, aged over 15 are victims of this dreadful autoimmune disorder which leads to severe joint swelling and degeneration along with pain. Even the healthiest of persons with no vices whatsoever can be affected by this arthritis condition.
Thus, it is better to avoid any external risk elements (like smoking) that can trigger this disease.