OMAHA, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Cigarette smoking increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in African-Americans, a U.S. researcher says.
Dr. Ted Mikuls of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha says the research suggests one in six new cases of rheumatoid arthritis occurring in African-Americans could be prevented through smoking cessation programs that limit cumulative smoking exposure.
The study, scheduled to be published in the December issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism, found African-American arthritis patients were more likely to have been heavy smokers -- 54 percent versus 35 percent of the control group -- and more likely to carry a gene linked to arthritis -- 40 percent versus 23 percent of the control group.
"Rheumatoid arthritis epidemiology has been largely understudied in the African American population," Mikuls, the lead author, said in a statement. "The aim of our study was to bridge the knowledge gap by determining whether smoking contributes to rheumatoid arthritis risk in African-Americans and define the extent to which this association is affected by genetic risk."
Mikuls and colleagues looked at smoking and genetic factors in 605 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 255 healthy controls.