Friday, November 11, 2011

Air pollution linked to joint disease

Smog may be associated with an increased
risk of rheumatoid arthritis, study shows.
Breathing in smog and polluted air on a regular basis is not only bad for your lungs and heart – it can also increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis, a new study suggests.

Sulfur dioxide, the main component of smog, was associated with modest increases in risk for the painful joint disease.

The study involved 2,092 rheumatoid arthritis patients and more than 93,000 people without the disease in the United States and Sweden.

The researchers determined their long-term exposure to common air pollutants, including gases like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particles like soot or dust, based on the participants’ home addresses.

Exposure to particulate air pollution like soot and dust did not show any higher risks for the disease, but exposure to sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen in the 10 and 20 years before the onset of rheumatoid arthritis showed an increased risk.

People with lower socioeconomic status were also at a higher risk because they tend to live in houses where more air pollution leaks in from the outside, the researchers said.

These preliminary findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal and should be regarded as preliminary.

The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are still unknown, but researchers blame a combination of genes, early life events and environmental factors, among others. About 1.3 million Americans suffer from RA.

Source: USA Today

Environmental risk factors in the air

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