Bad Habits Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Studies show that smoking may not only worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, but it might actually cause RA to develop. “The link is quite strong, said Dr. Matteson. “If you smoke you have about a twofold risk of developing RA.”

Unlike tobacco, the use of alcohol gets mixed reviews. At least one study indicates that moderate drinking may actually lower the risk and the severity of RA. “I think this is something that still needs to be explored,” said Matteson, adding a cautionary note about the risk of combining alcohol and some common RA medications like methotrexate. Since both impact the liver, “we counsel patients to moderate or markedly reduce their use of alcohol if they use these drugs.”

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