Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes

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Written By DerrickCalvert

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Genetics and RA

A family history of RA may increase your risk of developing it. Research has also revealed genes that are associated with a higher risk of developing RA.

HLA is one example. The Arthritis Foundation states that a person who has the HLA gene marker is five times more likely than someone without it to develop RA. The HLA marker does not necessarily mean that you will develop RA. This is a sign of increased risk.

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Other genes are also associated with RA. These genes include:

  • PTPN22: Research suggests that this gene may play a role in the progression and development of RA.
  • STAT4: This gene activates and regulates the immune system.
  • TRAF1 and CTRAF5: These genes are associated with chronic inflammation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that RA can be caused by more than one gene. This would also affect the severity of their condition.

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Infectious agents, RA

Researchers believe bacteria and other infectious agents could trigger RA. Researchers have found bacteria in the synovial tissue surrounding the joints.

A December 2016 Science Translational Medicine journal published a study that found bacteria that causes chronic inflammatory gum infections could trigger RA.

There is a link between having an Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans infection (bacteria associated with periodontal disease) and greater production of proteins known to trigger RA. This bacterium is unlikely to be the only cause of RA. Half the participants in the study didn’t have the bacteria in their mouths.

Viruses could also be responsible for triggering RA. According to the Cleveland Clinic people with RA have on average higher levels of antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis, than the general population.

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Trauma and RA

Researchers believe that physical trauma could be a contributing factor to the onset and progression of RA. A study published in Open Access Rheumatology found that trauma can cause inflammation, which could lead to RA.

These are some examples of trauma:

  • bone fractures
  • joint dislocations
  • ligament damage

However, the researches didn’t provide any evidence to link trauma to the development RA.

To determine the true cause and effect, large-scale, long-term research is required. Because trauma might not trigger RA immediately, It could lead to inflammation, which could eventually lead to RA.

  • Smoking and RA

Smoking cigarettes can influence the onset and severity of RA symptoms as well as the effectiveness of treatment. Arthritis Research and Therapy published a study that found light smoking can increase the risk of developing RA.

A study found that women who smoke daily are more likely to develop RA than those who don’t. After quitting smoking, the likelihood of developing RA declined. Over time, the risk of developing RA decreased.

Additional risk factors and possible causes

  • Hormones

Women are more likely to have RA than men. Female hormone levels could play a role in the development of the disease. Some women may experience RA symptoms fluctuating during pregnancy. The symptoms of RA may improve after pregnancy, but they can subside during pregnancy.

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Breastfeeding and the associated hormones may worsen RA symptoms. Using birth control can also increase your risk of developing RA.

  • Pollutants and irritants
  • cigarette smoke
  • air pollution
  • insecticides
  • Obesity

According to the Arthritis Foundation approximately two-thirds (or more) of those with RA are overweight or obese. Inflammation can be caused by fat in the body. Fat can also release cytokines which are compounds that are released in inflamed joint. The more severe RA symptoms a person has, the greater their weight.