Dr. Blanc says the study underscores the value of looking at large groups of military personnel to gain insights into exposures that occur in many occupations. “We didn’t rely on people’s self-reported exposure,” he emphasizes, adding, “Recall is not an issue here.”
Dr. Blanc acknowledges the study used a heterogeneous categorization, which he explains is not an exact science, making the fact that the researchers were able to document the association “all the more remarkable.” The team also documented the expected association between smoking and RA, a finding Dr. Blanc describes as reassuring because it served as a type of positive control.
The study findings underscore the fact that the association between “dusty trades” and RA needs further investigation. Dr. Blanc called for further analysis of autoimmune diseases that are rarer and more difficult to study.
Lara C. Pullen, PhD, is a medical writer based in the Chicago area.
- D Ying, G Schmajuk, L Trupin, et al. Inorganic dust exposure during military service as a predictor of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. ACR Open Rheumatol. 2021 Jul. 3(7):466–474.
- Agent Orange exposure and VA disability compensation. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 2021.
- Institute of Medicine. Veterans and Agent Orange: Health Effects of Herbicides Used in Vietnam. National Academies Press. 1994 Feb 1.