Tag: rheumatoid arthritis

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Smoke Exposure in Childhood Can Boost Chances of Getting RA

Each year The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), an organization that represents the patient, healthcare professional and professional societies of rheumatology in the European Union, holds the Annual European Congress of Rheumatology. Not only does this forum serve as a space where rheumatology professionals can connect with patient organizations from all across Europe, but is also helps rheumatologists engage with other professionals and learn about new findings in the field.

If you recall my previous blog, Medicines May Help to Prevent Arthritis, EULAR may sound familiar to you because this blog was based on a report from this forum as well. As a follow-up to my previous blog, I’d also like to talk about another interesting finding that was presented at the conference: secondhand smoke exposure from cigarettes in childhood can boost chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

“This is the first demonstration of a rheumatoid arthritis risk associated with passive smoking,” explained Raphaèle Seror, M.D., a professor of rheumatology at the University of Paris–South and a practicing rheumatologist at the Hospital Bicetre Kremlin Bicetre, at the European Congress of Rheumatology.

The French rheumatologist and her team analyzed data collected from more than 70,000 French women, which followed their health for more than 20 years. Then, the team identified a cohort of women who had confirmed RA based on their self-report of having incident RA, which occurs after a health-depleting action such as excessive alcohol consumption or smoking, during a follow-up study.

This cohort of women who had confirmed incident RA totaled 389 women. Majority of those women had a history of smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke. In fact, the analysis showed that women who had a history of second-hand smoke were exposed to it as children — and they were all exposed at an estimated more than an hour every day. These women actually showed to have a 43% higher rate of incident RA compared to women who never smoked or never had a history of secondhand smoke exposure.

To further confirm the suspicions of the link between smoking and RA incidence, 37% of women with a history of smoking without childhood exposure had the likelihood of developing RA, and 73% of women who had both secondhand smoke exposure as children and smoked into adulthood were likely to develop RA.

Although this study only analyzed women, it can be evident that we can say the same for men as well. Regardless, “secondhand smoke exposure to children was about as potent a trigger for future rheumatoid arthritis as active smoking by an adult,” says a report from Rheumatology News.

Were you frequently exposed to secondhand smoke as a child? Do you smoke today? It’s probably a good idea to make an appointment with your local rheumatologist to get yourself checked for RA.

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Foods that Alleviate Arthritis Pain

Although arthritis doesn’t have a cure, there are certain things you can do to alleviate the pain. Some of these include participating in activities like yoga, acupuncture, or taking medication. However, there is a natural way to alleviate arthritis pain: eating certain foods that have the power to fight inflammation.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Our bodies naturally produce energy and other metabolic processes — which in turn produces harmful byproducts called free radicals. These little atoms can assist with the development of arthritis since they attack joints and can leave them inflamed. Eating cruciferous vegetables can block the inflammatory side effects, and even slow down cartilage damage in joints because these vegetables are full sulforaphane, which is a free-radical fighting compound.

To incorporate more cruciferous vegetables into your diet, try adding brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy, swiss chard, cauliflower, or broccoli to your salad or stir-fry. It’s also relatively easy to add broccoli as a side dish to your meal or to incorporate it into a pasta dish. In addition, these days it’s become quite popular to substitute cauliflower for carbohydrates, so you may want to try some of these recipes.

Omega-3’s

The human body can make most of the types of fats it needs, however, it doesn’t make omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats can reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of arthritis, says the University of Maryland Medical Center.

To incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, try incorporating more fish into your meals. Salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel can easily be the main course for your dinners. You can also eat more tuna by making tuna fish sandwiches or tuna noodle casserole. If you’re not a fan of fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts can make excellent snacks during the workday or can easily be incorporated into smoothies.

Allium Vegetables

You’ve probably never heard of the word allium, but you’ve certainly heard of the vegetables that are in this category. Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots not only add rich flavor to your foods, but they provide a compound called diallyl disulfide, which can fight arthritis. “This compound may have some effect in limiting cartilage-damaging enzymes,” which can cause the inflammation that’s commonly associated with arthritis, says rheumatologist Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

Olive Oil

Olive oil has been shown to reduce pain and stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Diets that are rich in olive oil, like the Mediterranean diet, is an easy way to incorporate more of the product into your diet. Not only that, but the healthy fats found in olive oil can provide you with a similar satisfaction to using full-fat dairy products like butter. Feel free to swap out buttered rolls for bread dipped in olive oil and other spices or add extra flavor to your vegetables by tossing them in olive oil!

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Why Millennials are Already Showing Signs of Arthritis

According to a recent report cited in the Washington Post, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that one in four adults in the United States suffers from arthritis. To put this into a better perspective, 54 million adults have this condition, and not all of them are elderly as you would typically imagine. And to break it down even further, about 8 million millennials have been diagnosed with arthritis.

So what’s the cause? It’s a combination of technology usage and excessive workouts like CrossFit that put too much use on their joints.

The Case for Technology

Think about how today’s technology is used. We all frequently type on a keyboard whether it’s in front of a computer screen or directly on your smartphone. As for millennials, they’ve grown up in a world full of technology easily accessible at their fingertips. From computers, cell phones, and controllers for video games, it’s become a habit for many millennials to be tapping away at something in their hands.

All of these technological advances require heavy usage of fingers and thumbs. And with 27 bones in each hand, developing finger and thumb arthritis is quite common! In fact, researchers believe that arthritis in wrists and fingers could be an increasing problem since many adults text frequently and have spent too much time playing video games as kids. The repetitive motion of texting and hitting buttons on a controller puts a lot of stress on joints, which can cause arthritic over time.

The Case for Excessive Workouts

James Francisco, a 29-year old former college football player, has been playing sports his entire life. However, every time he finished his workouts, he had a dull pain in his knees that would last two to three hours. After seeing a physical therapist, Francisco was diagnosed with early onset arthritis. “You wouldn’t think you would hear those words in your 20s,” said Francisco.

Francisco has a point, because many millennials would never fathom having arthritis this early in their lifetime. But his physical therapist, Dr. Karena Wu, says she’s seen an increasing number of millennials with arthritis or joint inflammation at an early age. Why? Parents have been enrolling children in competitive sports like football and soccer at a younger age. As these children grow up, they’ve been inclined to participate in intensive workouts like CrossFit or competitions like the Tough Mudder.  

“They are doing more intense activities, they’re spending a longer time participating in sports, and they’re doing so many sports that they don’t take a break,” says Wu. “Their muscles are getting a lot more use than we would have gotten growing up as a kid and playing in the backyard.” All of that muscle usage is certainly taking a toll on millennial’s joints, causing pain in places like the knees, shoulders and wrists.

If you’re a millennial, have you noticed any pain on your joints? Let me know in the comments below.

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