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Results of a recent study show that smoking is a risk factor for developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) only in men. In the study, the researchers at Stanford University examined 2625 participants to investigate the link between smoking and RA. Data were collected on age, height, education, and smoking habits. Then, the researchers measured the levels of a rogue antibody?rheumatoid factor?in the patients. Rheumatoid factor is believed to make the body?s immune system attack the joints and is found in 80% of RA sufferers.
The production of rheumatoid factor is linked to smoking. The researchers, however, found that pre-menopausal women block this effect, eliminating smoking as a risk factor. Although this study discovered interesting differences in the susceptibility of both genders to the disease, the study authors said that further research is needed to understand the interaction between smoking, RA, and gender.