Scientists in Sweden examined data from 34,101 women between the ages of 54 and 89. Of these, 219 had RA.
RA is joint damage caused by the immune system. Unlike osteoarthritis, it is caused by the body attacking itself rather than by general wear and tear from stress and injuries.
The researchers found that women who smoked for longer had a higher risk of developing RA than those who gave up. However, even 15 years after quitting smoking, the risk of developing RA was still twice as high as it was for non-smokers.
Lead researcher Ms Daniela Di Giuseppe, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said: “Stopping smoking is important for many health reasons, including the increased risk of RA for smokers. But the clearly increased risk of developing RA, even many years after giving up, is another reason to stop smoking as soon as possible, and highlights the importance of persuading women not to start at all.”
The findings have been published in the online journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.
Therapies for RA treatment include massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, hydrotherapy and osteopathy. Patients are also advised to exercise regularly. Pain and stiffness can make some forms of exercise difficult; however, low impact activities such as cycling, swimming and cross training can prove very effective at staving off further ill health such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Find out more about the therapies available and how to contact a therapist near you by visiting our Therapy Topics page.
View and comment on the original Sydney Daily Telegraph page.