Rheumatoid Arthritis: Are You Raising Your Personal Risk Level?

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Rheumatoid arthritis is no laughing matter.

About 1.5 million Americans are believed to suffer from the condition, which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. While the exact cause is not known, the immune system of the sufferer is said to attack the joint tissues.

Of all Americans diagnosed, nearly three fourths of them are women.

If you are a smoker, your habit is thought to exponentially increase your overall likelihood of developing the condition.

Now a study out of Sweden shows that there’s something else that can make suffering from rheumatoid arthritis even more likely—To be a smoker who also enjoys a diet high in salt!

The initial goal of the research was to determine if too much sodium can be an additional risk factor in the development of RA.

They indeed found that this was the case...but only among smokers.

In an email to Reuters Health, Björn Sundström said of the findings, "Although we could not confirm our original hypothesis, we were surprised by the large influence of sodium intake on smoking as a risk factor.”

Sundström was already aware that smoking was a “strong risk factor” on its own. But he was not expecting was for salt to compound an existing and serious factor rather than exist as a stand alone concern.

It turns out that “less than ideal food habits” play a larger role than expected in the health problems suffered by chronic smokers.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be so surprising.

Although there are proven negative health effects associated with smoking, excess sodium is also known to be damaging. This is true even if one has NEVER picked up a cigarette in their life!

Perhaps the lesson here is that one can’t expect any good to come of a series of decisions that will ultimately cause negative health problems.

Please watch your salt intake. Also don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’d like to quit smoking.