The Impact of Smoking and Obesity on Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Body mass index and smoking could have significant impact on RA remission.

Non-smokers and those with a healthy body weight are more likely to achieve sustained remission after treatment for early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with individuals who are not.

Prior research illustrates that many patients with RA fail to achieve or maintain remission within 10 years of onset. A study presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress sought to establish connection between RA symptoms and patients who are obese and/or were smokers.

“Despite the high prevalence of excess body weight and smoking among RA patients, relatively little is known about whether and to what extent these modifiable lifestyle factors impact the likelihood of achieving sustained remission,” said study investigator Susan Bartlett.

Researchers analyzed RA patients enrolled in the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH) study, and estimated the independent effects of body mass index class and smoking on the duration to sustained remission in the first 3 years after diagnosis.

There were 1008 patients who had a 3-year follow-up, and were assessed at each visit for disease activity, medication, and patient-reported outcomes. Slightly under one-half of males were overweight.

Researchers adjusted for race, baseline disability, pain, age, smoking, excess body weight, and early use of methotrexate.

The study showed these factors had both significant combined and independent effects on the likelihood of men and women achieving sustained remission.

“Our findings show that not smoking and a healthy body weight -- lifestyle factors which can be modified by patients -- can have a significant impact on becoming symptom-free,” Bartlett said.