(RxWiki News) A new study finds that African-Americans who smoke are at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Rheumatoid arthritis risk is more pronounced among individuals who test positive for the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope, a genetic risk factor for the debilitating disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the synovial membrane (joint lining) that causes pain, swelling and redness in joints.
"The aim of our study was to bridge the knowledge gap by determining whether smoking contributes to rheumatoid arthritis risk in African Americans and define the extent to which this association is affected by genetic risk,” said Ted Mikuls, MD, MSPH, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and lead study author.
About 26 percent of African-American men and 17 percent of African-American women 18 years of age and older smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis were slightly more likely to report a status of former or current smoker and less likely to be never-smokers than those without the disease. Heavy smoking was found in 54 percent of the rheumatoid arthritis patients studied and in about 35 percent of subjects who ever smoked.
"We found a two-fold increase in rheumatoid arthritis risk among African Americans who were heavy smokers,” Mikuls said.