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Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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  • Doctors and researchers have not pointed out what exactly causes rheumatoid arthritis. What they found out, though, is that rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by any one or a combination of hormonal, environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors.
  • It’s yet to be determined what hormone-related causes are responsible for rheumatoid arthritis, but the fact that RA is more prevalent among women compared to men says something.

Doctors and researchers have not been able to determine what exactly causes rheumatoid arthritis. What they have discovered, is that rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by any one or a combination of hormonal, environmental, genetic1 and lifestyle factors.2

What Roles Do Hormones Play in RA Development?

It’s yet to be determined what hormone-related causes are responsible for rheumatoid arthritis, but the fact that RA is more prevalent among women compared to men is notable.3 It has been said that women will have a higher risk of RA if they have never given birth.4

Pregnancy may actually help reduce a woman’s RA risk.5 The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, which is based in the U.K., notes that around 75 percent of pregnant women notice alleviated pain and swelling, particularly during the second trimester.6 These improvements may be traced to the high quantities of hormones like estradiol and progesterone present in the body.7 Once the baby is born, however, RA symptoms may appear once again after a few months.8,9

Some studies have also highlighted that oral contraceptives containing the progestin hormone (or a combination of progestin and estrogen) are connected to cases of rheumatoid arthritis,10 but this link still needs to be fully determined.

Environmental Factors That May Trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are also various environmental factors that can cause rheumatoid arthritis, such as exposure to certain kinds of dust or fibers,11 and viral or bacterial infections.12 As for lifestyle choices, smoking  is a very damaging risk factor.13

Smokers have a very high chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis and experiencing more severe symptoms and pain. It’s been found that smoking can play a role in making rheumatoid factor (RF) levels rise.14,15 This may lead to malfunctions in the immune response and increase your risk for RA. Smoking also weakens the effects of drugs commonly used to treat RA,16,17 and increases the risk of RA patients to develop cardiovascular disease as well.18,19

MORE ABOUT RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Introduction

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis Types

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis Prevention

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Hereditary?

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis vs Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Rheumatoid Arthritis FAQ

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[+] Sources and References [-] Sources and References

  • 1, 3 National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Skin Diseases, April 30, 2017
  • 2 Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, Published Online First: 16 March 2013
  • 4 "The Complete Guide to Healing Arthritis: How to Conquer Pain, Inflammation, and Other Symptoms - And Live Your Life to the Fullest," March 29, 2011
  • 5 Rheumatology (Oxford). 2011 Nov; 50(11): 1955–1968. Published online 2011 Sep 2
  • 6 National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, May 4, 2016
  • 7 Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Mar 15;59(3):299-301
  • 8 WebMD, January 28, 2011
  • 9 Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Sep 15;59(9):1241-8
  • 10 Rheumatology, Volume 53, Issue 5, 1 May 2014, Pages 860–866
  • 11 Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 2016;75:997-1002
  • 12 J Clin Cell Immunol. 2013 Dec; 4(6): 174. Published online 2013 Dec
  • 13 EurekAlert!, June 16, 2017
  • 14 Rheumatology, Volume 39, Issue 11, 1 November 2000, Pages 1202–1205
  • 15 Scand J Rheumatol. 2015;44(1):8-12. doi: 10.3109/03009742.2014.918651. Epub 2014 Sep 10
  • 16 J Clin Rheumatol. 2010 Jan;16(1):15-8
  • 17 Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Jan;63(1):26-36
  • 18 F1000 Med Rep. 2010; 2: 27. Published online 2010 Apr 12
  • 19 Rheumatology (Oxford). 2012 Mar; 51(3): 499–512. Published online 2011 Nov 24
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