(Reuters Health)—Adults who quit smoking decades ago may have a lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) than people who gave up cigarettes more recently, a U.S. study suggests.
Smoking has long been linked to an increased risk of RA, and quitting can reduce this risk. But the new study offers fresh evidence that years of cessation can pay off more than just a brief period without cigarettes.
“These results provide evidence for those at increased rheumatoid arthritis risk to quit smoking since this may delay or even prevent the onset of rheumatoid arthritis,” said senior study author Jeffrey Sparks, MD, MMSc, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.
Also, Dr. Sparks says by email, while quitting is the best way to reduce RA risk, cutting back on smoking “should also help lessen the risk.”