While scientists have long known of apparent links between smoking and an increased risk of arthritis, this new Swedish study, published in the online journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, tells us specifically how much smoking leads to increasing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. It identifies how smoking intensity, smoking duration, and the cessation of smoking affects your arthritis risk.
Two of the most alarming bytes from the study:
- A little smoking is all it takes: If you are one of those who had already cut back on smoking, hoping to dodge the rheumatoid arthritis bullet, the study concluded that even light cigarette smokers experience a heightened risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Quit smoking and the risk goes down but does not disappear. Yes, you can reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis from smoking by quitting the habit, but the study clearly shows that smoking cessation (stopping smoking) does not remove the risk entirely. The key takeaway: don’t even start smoking to be safe.
And this was no lightweight review:
How researchers reached their conclusions
- Smoking intensity (how many cigarettes a day)
- Smoking duration (how many years the participants smoked)
- Smoking cessation (odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis even after quitting the habit)
- Those who smoked one-to-seven cigarettes daily were significantly more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who had never smoked – more than a twofold greater risk.
- Longer smoking duration created a significant increase in risk of developing arthritis.
- The most surprising discovery: The risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis was significantly elevated even 15 years after smokers had quit smoking, compared with those who were never smokers.
The most significant takeaway of the study is a message that parents can share with their children before they are tempted to start smoking – that the increased risk of future rheumatoid arthritis development even among former smokers is another reason to not to start smoking.
Arthritis Awareness Month
That’s why the Arthritis Foundation founded National Arthritis Awareness Month, to draw attention to, and raise awareness of, this national health problem. Their goal: to rally the nation to take action against arthritis.
How you can help
- Donate to the Arthritis Foundation.
- Learn about arthritis volunteer opportunities.
- Read about the groundbreaking rheumatoid arthritis study released in April 2013.
- Visit www.FightArthritisPain.org to learn more about the simple steps you can take to fight osteoarthritis pain.
- Get facts on how to keep arthritis at bay.
- Get involved this month by participating in The Arthritis Walk® – the Arthritis Foundation's nationwide event that raises awareness and funds to fight arthritis. On this page, you can click on your state to find an Arthritis Walk in your area.
- Learn about myriad arthritis events occurring throughout the U.S. and in your neighborhood (using the event search engine), including the annual Jingle Bell run/walks, dinners and galas, advocacy summits, Joints in Motion events, and Bone Bash events.
- Keep abreast of the latest news on arthritis treatments and discoveries.
- Get self-help solutions for coping with your osteoarthritis