Obesity and the painful auto-immune disorder rheumatoid arthritis are each becoming more common, raising a logical question: could one have something to do with the other? For women, it appears there is a link, Mayo Clinic researchers say.
They studied hundreds of patients and found a history of obesity taht puts women at significant risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Their findings have been published online in the American College of Rheumatology journal Arthritis Care and Research.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks tissues, inflaming joints and sometimes also affecting other organs and causing fever and fatigue. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to initially impact the hands and feet and then spread to the knees, ankles, hips and shoulders. It is more common in women than in men. Complications can include heart problems, lung disease, osteoporosis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
To examine a potential link with obesity, researchers pulled medical records covering 1980–2007 from the Rochester Epidemiology Project and studied 813 adults with rheumatoid arthritis and 813 adults as the control group, matched by age, gender and calendar year.
Height, weight and smoking status also were noted; roughly 30 percent of the patients in each group were obese and 68 percent were women.