MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Smoking boosts the risk of
rheumatoid arthritis in black Americans, and heavy smokers and
those with a genetic risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis are among
those most likely to develop the joint disease, a new study has
Researchers evaluated 605 black patients with rheumatoid
arthritis and 255 healthy black people. They found that those with
the disease were slightly more likely to be former or current
smokers and less likely to have never smoked.
Heavy smoking was reported by about 54 percent of rheumatoid
arthritis patients who were former or current smokers, compared
with 35 percent of those in the control group who had ever
In addition, rheumatoid arthritis patients were more likely than
people in the control group (40 percent versus 23 percent) to have
at least one "HLA-DRB1 shared epitope-containing allele" -- a
genetic risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis.
The study is published in the December issue of the journal
Arthritis & Rheumatism.
The investigators found that rheumatoid arthritis risk doubled
among blacks who were heavy smokers, and the risk increased to more
than fourfold for those who also had the genetic factor, they
"Our results suggest that roughly one in six new cases of rheumatoid arthritis occurring in African Americans could be prevented through smoking cessation or by limiting cumulative smoking exposure to less than 10 pack-years," lead author Dr. Ted Mikuls, of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said in a journal news release.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about