According to a new study from researchers at Harvard University, women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have a higher risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term for a range of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. As you might expect
Posted March 3,2018 in Lifestyle.
The researchers acquired their data from the National Health Service, which had enrolled more than 120,000 women in 1976 and monitored their experiences with RA and COPD through 2014. Study subjects were matched with healthy control subjects and completed questionnaires about their health status every two years. After adjusting for such factors as age, smoking, diet, body mass index, physical activity and menopause, the researchers concluded that women with RA had a 68 percent greater risk for COPD than the controls did.
The authors said the lungs are important in RA and pointed out that inlammation in the lungs might act as a trigger for the immune tolerance breakdown that leads to the development of RA. They also said that smoking, along with environmental factors, have been implicated in RA. Their study reported that women who developed RA were more likely to have been smokers than the women who did not develop RA. Also, while about 5 percent of the women in the control group developed COPD, 8 percent of the women with RA developed COPD. One of the most interesting indings concerned women who never smoked. Among those who never smoked, 3 percent of the RA group developed COPD. But in the control group who never smoked, only about 2 percent did. This inding led the researchers to speculate that factors other than smoking cause RA patients to develop COPD at higher rates that controls. They indicated the need for further studies to determine what these other factors might be. The possibilities included genetics and the dynamics that afect autoimmunity and inlammation.