Smoking may increase odds of arthritis: study

Stockholm – Even light smoking increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study from Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden.

Researchers analyzed data from the Swedish Mammography Cohort, which tracked 34,101 women from January 2003 to December 2010. During that time, 219 cases of rheumatoid arthritis were identified.

Results suggested arthritis risk was tied to both the daily amount of cigarettes smoked and number of years being a smoker. Light smokers – defined as smoking one to seven cigarettes a day – were more than twice as likely to have rheumatoid arthritis compared to non-smokers, according to the study abstract. Women who had smoked for up to 25 years also had a higher risk when compared to non-smokers.

Quitting smoking may help. Former smokers saw a drop in arthritis risk that improved with time, but their risk was still higher than women who had never smoked.

The study was published online April 22 in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.