Smokers Left in Pain

Rheumatoid arthritis patients are less likely to have a good response to methotrexate or TNF inhibitors

(RxWiki News) Smoking is terrible for your health and leads to all sorts of problems. Researchers have found yet another problem related to smoking; some arthritis drugs may not work for patients who smoke.

Researchers found that rheumatoid arthritis patients who smoke are less likely than patients who have never smoked to get good results from their medications. Patients who used to smoke, on the other hand, did not get a worse response from their medications.

"Your rheumatoid arthritis drugs may not work if you smoke."

Studies have already shown that smoking can increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, but few have looked at whether smoking cigarettes affects patients' response to medications for the disease.

According to Dr. Saedis Saevarsdottir from the Karolinksa Institute, this study shows that doctors should help patients quit smoking as part of their standard treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Saevarsdottir believes smoking while taking medications reduced patients' chance of a good response to those medications

In Depth

For their study, Saevarsdottir and colleagues looked at how smoking cigarettes affected patients' response to two types rheumatoid arthritis drugs - methotrexate and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors. Using data from more than 1,400 rheumatoid arthritis patients between 18 and 70 years of age, the researchers found:

  • A history of smoking did not affect patients' response to methotrexate or TNF inhibitors
  • 27 percent of current smokers had a good response to methotrexate, compared to 36 percent of those who never smoked
  • 29 percent of current smokers had a good response to TNF inhibitors, compared to 43 percent of those who never smoked
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Review Date: 
April 21, 2011