Causes and risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis (Part 2)

Like other autoimmune disorders such as lupus and psoriasis, the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unclear.

Like other autoimmune disorders such as lupus and psoriasis, the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unclear.

What we already know is that some factors - including smoking and obesity - can not only increase the risk of disease but also experience worse symptoms.

Risk factors for lifestyle

Lifestyle risk factors are changeable factors. Changing these factors may not only reduce the severity of the disease but may even reduce the risk of getting it from the beginning.


Smoking has a causal relationship with rheumatoid arthritis. Tobacco not only increases the risk of disease, but it can also accelerate the progress of symptoms even to severe levels.

Studies have concluded that a heavy smoker (defined as smoking a pack of pills a day for more than 20 years) has twice the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, rheumatoid-positive (RF) smokers are three times less likely to develop arthritis than non-smokers, whether they are current smokers or have ever smoked. . As an independent risk factor, smoking is an agent that promotes cell death, increases inflammation, and stimulates the production of free radicals that cause severe damage to inflamed joints.

Even if you are taking medication to treat rheumatoid arthritis, smoking can interfere with the activities of the medicine. These include basic drugs like methotrexate, and TNF inhibitors such as Enbrel (etanercept) and Humira (adalimumab).


Characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis are chronic inflammation that decomposes and destroys joint and bone tissue gradually over time. Anything that increases this inflammation will only make things worse.

Obesity is one of the factors that can trigger systemic inflammation, caused by the accumulation of fat cells and increased production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines . The higher the amount of body fat, the higher the cytokine concentration. Moreover, increased body weight adds pressure to affected joints, especially knees, hips and feet, leading to greater loss of mobility and pain.

Picture 1 of Causes and risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis (Part 2)
Lifestyle risk factors are changeable factors.

Stress both physically and emotionally

While symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may appear without a clear reason, there are factors that can make those symptoms suddenly turn bad.

Excessive stress is one of these things. Although this mechanism is no longer understood, scientists believe that releasing stress hormones suddenly and excessively, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can increase autoimmune reactions. This is not intended to lower the great benefits of physical exercise during the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but to say that the physical activities need to be reasonable, especially for joint areas. affect.

The body's response to physical pressure can be reflected in the body's response to emotional stress. Although scientists have yet to find a clear link between stress and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, people living with the disease often experience flares immediately after anxiety, depression or tired.

Other common triggers include infections, colds or flu, which are related to the activation of the immune system. Flares can also occur when eating allergy foods, causing the immune system to react abnormally.

All of these factors put the body under a certain level of stress, which causes the immune system to react and this can sometimes be detrimental.

  • Causes and risk factors of rheumatoid arthritis (Part 1)
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