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Female HCAs seen at higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis

Female healthcare assistants (HCAs) are at a slightly higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study that looked at environment and lifestyle.

Female healthcare assistants (HCAs) are at a slightly higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study that looked at environment and lifestyle

hca
Noxious air in environments such as hospitals can trigger
an autoimmune reaction. Picture: iStock

Female healthcare assistants (HCAs) are at a slightly higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study.

Noxious airborne agents present in environments such as hospitals can trigger an autoimmune reaction which brings on the development of the condition in susceptible individuals.

Researchers analysed data from 3,522 people and a control group of 5,580 people from a Swedish population-based study, Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA), run between 1996 and 2014.

Environment, lifestyle

Participants were sent a questionnaire and asked about their work history and lifestyle before providing a blood sample.

The team at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden accessed data on the participants, who ranged from 18-70 years old.

The odds of developing rheumatoid arthritis associated with the most recent occupation were then calculated and adjusted for known environmental exposures and lifestyle factors, including smoking habits, alcohol consumption and body mass index.

Preventable risk

Female HCAs and flight attendants were found to be 1.3 times more at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than the control group, while among males, bricklayers and concrete workers were 2.9 times more likely to have the condition.

Lead author Anna Ilar said: ‘Previous studies have not considered these lifestyle-related risk factors to the same extent.

‘Our findings therefore indicate that work-related factors, such as airborne harmful exposures, may contribute to disease development.

‘It is important that findings on preventable risk factors are spread to employees, employers and decision-makers in order to prevent disease by reducing or eliminating known risk factors.’


Ilar A et al (2017) Occupation and Risk of Developing Rheumatoid Arthritis: Results From a Population-Based Case-Control Study. Arthritis Care & Research. doi:10.1002/acr.23321

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