Female HCAs at ‘slightly higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis’ | News

Four particular occupations may put male and female workers at an elevated risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to the Swedish study.

“Our findings… indicate that work-related factors, such as airborne harmful exposures, may contribute to disease development”

Anna Ilar

Among 28 different female employment roles, researchers found that assistant nurses were the only occupational group significantly associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Meanwhile, for men, they found that workers in the manufacturing sector had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those in the professional, administrative, and technical sectors.

Within the manufacturing sector, male electrical and electronics workers and material handling operators had a two-fold increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis than the controls. Bricklayers and concrete workers had a three-fold increased risk.

The researchers analysed information on 3,522 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 5,580 controls. They also gathered information on environmental, genetic, and immunological factors via blood samples and questionnaires between 1996 and 2014.

The 18-year study controlled for smoking habits, alcohol use, educational level, and body mass index, all of which are factors known to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers claimed their findings suggested that work-related factors, such as noxious airborne agents, may contribute to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.

“It is important that findings on preventable risk factors are spread to employees, employers, and decision-makers”

Anna Ilar

Environmental factors are thought to play a role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis by triggering autoimmune reactions in susceptible individuals, noted the study authors.

For example, they said elevated levels of anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA), rheumatoid factor and anti-carbamylated protein antibodies had previously been found in patients…

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