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Air Pollution May Cause Common Form of Arthritis
November 2011: Breathing in some of the most common types of air pollution increases a person’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, new research reveals.
The annual conference of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) was briefed on a comprehensive Swedish study which found that people who were exposed to gases, especially the common pollutant sulphur dioxide, were in danger of developing the debilitating condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and joint immobility. In Ireland it affects around 40,000 people.
Environmental factors have long been connected with the development of RA, and exposure through a person’s airways is of particular interest to researchers.
Scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden studied 1,330 cases of RA (as well as an additional 2,235 people without the disease) from the Swedish Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Going from low to high exposure to sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, or nitrogen oxide were associated with an up to seven percent, 11 percent, and seven percent increased risk for RA, respectively.
However a similar study conducted in the US and also reported to the ACR conference only discovered an increased risk of developing RA from those exposed to sulphur dioxide.
The risk was higher in individuals with less than a university education, a measure of socioeconomic status, than in individuals with at least a university education.
“This may be because individuals with a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to live in houses where more air pollution leaks in from the outside or other factors such as general health status that may make them more susceptible to the effects of air pollution,” the researchers said.
“As this is the first study to examine the effects of air pollution on RA risk, it is important to validate these findings in other studies, and in populations with a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Arthritis affects 1 in 5 people in Ireland – 915,000 people nationwide. There are over 100 different types of arthritis and these can affect people of all ages from babies and toddlers right through to those in their adult years. 60% of people with arthritis are aged under 65 years old.
About Arthritis Ireland:
Little things can make a big difference to a person with arthritis. Difficulty with the little things like making a cup of tea, getting dressed or opening the front door can all add up to have a big impact on a person’s quality of life. At Arthritis Ireland we understand this. That is why we are Ireland’s only organisation working single-mindedly to transform the experience of people living with arthritis and those who care for them. Every day, we work in communities across the country providing community based education programmes to help people effectively manage and control this devastating disease. We actively drive grassroots advocacy so that the voice of people with arthritis is heard and understood and we work with the medical community to control and cure arthritis.
For further information please contact:
Communications Manager Arthritis Ireland
Ph: 01-6470203 or 086 7952034
Communications Executive Arthritis Ireland
Ph: 01-6470203 or 087 6245865
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