Interesting results from a new Scandinavian study show that your occupation, and the environment you do it in, may put you at risk for the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA.) Many RA patients report flares with cold exposure and now there may be something more to it. What was notable about this study was that working in drafty or humid conditions put you at risk for RA.
Already defined high-risk occupations for RA (mining, steel manufacturing, chemical processing, and ship dockyards) were looked at more closely. Two things stood out: people who did these jobs in drafty or humid conditions had a higher risk of RA than people doing those jobs in a more “normal” environment.
Here are some prominent themes that emerged from this study:
1. Dock and warehouse workers with RA were 3 times more likely to work under drafty conditions than were those without RA.
2. Those individuals with RA had 15 years of exposure to drafty conditions.
3. Chemical plant workers with RA were 7 times more likely to have been working under cold conditions than were their coworkers without RA
4. Textile workers with RA were 9 times more likely to labor under humid conditions than were those without the disease.
Our patients with RA will tell us that environment matters. It certainly appears that it may.
- Dr. O
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