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Rheumatoid ArthritisRA Causes

Let's Talk About Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes

From genes to gender, a multitude of factors come together to increase your odds of getting this disease. Knowing which ones you can control will help you stay one step ahead of it.

    Our Pro PanelRheumatoid Arthritis

    We went to some of the nation’s top RA experts to bring you the most scientific and up-to-date information possible.

    Nilanjana Bose, M.D.

    Nilanjana Bose, M.D.Rheumatologist

    Rheumatology Center of Houston
    Houston, TX
    Elizabeth Schulman, M.D.

    Elizabeth Schulman, M.D.Rheumatologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine

    Weill Cornell Medical College
    New York, NY
    Dee Dee Wu, M.D.

    Dee Dee Wu, M.D.Rheumatologist and Assistant Attending Physician

    Hospital for Special Surgery
    New York, NY

    Frequently Asked QuestionsRA & Causes

    Who gets rheumatoid arthritis?

    Who gets it, and why, is still a bit of a question mark. It's a mistake to think of RA only as an older person's disease. While RA affects about 1% of the population, and while it's mostly women between the ages of 40 and 60, it can strike anyone at any age.

    What causes juvenile rheumatoid arthritis?

    Likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (now more commonly called juvenile idiopathic arthritis) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. It differs from adult RA in that children often outgrow the disease.

    How can you prevent RA?

    There is no sure way to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. But you can reduce your risk by giving up cigarettes (or better yet, not smoking them in the first place), maintaining a healthy weight, and promoting general wellness through diet, exercise, and stress management.

    What causes rheumatoid arthritis flares?

    The source of RA flares, episodes of increased disease activity, isn’t always evident. If you’re having a flare, take a look at what else is going on your life: Overexertion, poor sleep, stress, or an infection are all possible triggers.

    • Genes and RA risk. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. (2017). “Genetic and environmental risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis.” doi.org/10.1016/j.berh.2017.08.003

    • Environmental factors and RA. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. (n.d.) “What Is the Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis? Non-Genetic Factors.” nras.org.uk/what-is-the-cause-of-rheumatoid-arthritis-non-genetic-factors

    • Tobacco smoking. Arthritis Care & Research. (2019). “Impact and timing of smoking cessation on reducing risk of rheumatoid arthritis among women in the nurses’ health studies.” doi.org/10.1002/acr.23837

    • Obesity and RA risk: Arthritis Care & Research. (2012). “Contribution of obesity to the rise in incidence of rheumatoid arthritis.” doi.org/10.1002/acr.21660

    • Gut microbiome mouse study: PLOS One. (2012). “Loss of sex and age driven differences in the gut microbiome characterize arthritis-susceptible mice but not arthritis-resistant mice.” doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0036095

    • Silica study: BMJ Open. (2017). “Risk of sarcoidosis and seropositive rheumatoid arthritis from occupational silica exposure in Swedish iron foundries: a retrospective cohort study.” dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016839

    Jerilyn Covert

    Jerilyn Covert

    Jerilyn Covert is a writer, editor, and copy editor with 15 years of publishing experience.