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How Is Smoking Linked To Arthritis?

Posted in: General Health 12 Oct, 2015

Smoking is related to a lot of illness. It has no health benefits, only health drawbacks. Arthritis is not an obvious result of smoking, it's not shouted about like cancer, respiratory illness or stroke, but perhaps we should take a closer look because rheumatoid arthritis is not something you want to develop.

Today is World Arthritis Day, so it's the perfect time to take a look at the links between the two.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

It's an autoimmune disease where the body attacks joint linings and connective tissues. It causes pain, swelling and stiffness. Rheumatoid Arthritis is degenerative; there are no cures, only management techniques that don't always work and have numerous side effects. Dampening down the immune system for example. This can stop the assault on joint linings but it also stops your cold/flu/virus/ bug protection. Immunocompromised is the term.

How Is Arthritis Related to Smoking?

The Arthritis Research and Therapy journal has published the latest research. These studies have shown that women who smoke are more than twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Women who had smoked for a long time increased their risk even more.

Is This A Serious Risk?

Oh yes. Smokers are twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as their non-smoking peers. It's also thought that while giving up does provide some reduction in risk; ex-smokers were still in greater danger. It seems that smoking sets off a train of events that are not easy to undo. The study showed that the risk only dropped by 30% even after 15 years has passed.

Does Smoking Affect Arthritis Treatment?

Smoking is thought to reduce the efficacy of some treatments. This is not surprising when you look at the effects of smoking on a standard healthy individual. It narrows arteries, lowers oxygen levels and much more, so what does to a person suffering from an autoimmune disease?

You are more likely to avoid exercise if you are out-of-puff from smoking too, and being a healthy weight is important for painful joint management.

Does Smoking Make It Worse?

Although some sufferers use smoking as an emotional prop or distraction technique, it can actually make the condition worse. Smoking may increase the amount of pain you feel and dampen down the efforts of your body to repair itself.

Others say smoking is useful for weight-management and it's a pleasure when many other hobbies and fun times are not practical - my mother is a smoking RA patient so I know all the excuses.

Should You Quit If You Have Arthritis?

Yes you probably should. Although giving up won't cure the arthritis it could make your symptoms more manageable and boost your overall health. It'll reduce the risk of getting these diseases too:

  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Osteoporosis

Quitting cigarettes is the best way to reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. This is especially important for those with a family history of autoimmune disease. If you already have rheumatoid arthritis and smoke, you can find help to quit. It makes sense doesn't it? After all I'm sure you've tried many different treatments to help find a way to manage the pain. This'll be a doddle.

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