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Employees in certain professions with a significantly higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis


Work-related factors favor the development of rheumatoid arthritis
Researchers have now found that certain professions increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Certain work-related factors can therefore contribute to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.

The scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden discovered in their investigation that there are some professions that lead to an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Arthritis Care & Research".

Environmental influences with far-reaching effects
There are certain work-related factors, such as airborne contaminants, that increase the likelihood of rheumatoid arthritis. The experts explain that environmental influences play a major role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis because they trigger an autoimmune reaction in susceptible individuals.

Doctors analyze the data of 3,522 people with rheumatoid arthritis
To check whether certain occupational risks and exposures are involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, the scientists analyzed a total of 3,522 people with rheumatoid arthritis. The doctors also examined 5,580 people as a control group. The researchers used the data from the so-called EIRA study for their work. This study collected information about ecological, genetic and immunological factors, which were collected through blood tests and questionnaires between 1996 and 2014.

Bricklayers and concrete workers are three times more at risk of rheumatoid arthritis
The research team found that male workers in manufacturing are at higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Male electrical engineers were twice as likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, bricklayers and concrete workers were even three times more likely than people from administrative and technical professions.

Assistant nurses have a slightly higher risk
Assistant nurses had a slightly increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in the women examined. No increased risk was found for women in manufacturing, but this can be explained by the relatively small number of women working in this sector, the researchers report.

Study also took lifestyle risk factors into account
The researchers' analyzes also took into account some important factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, education level and body mass index, which are associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Previous studies had not considered these lifestyle-related risk factors to the same extent.

More research is needed
The results of the study show that work-related factors such as airborne harmful substances can contribute to the development of the disease. It is important that information about avoidable risk factors is shared with employees, employers, and decision-makers, the researchers say. By reducing or eliminating known risk factors, the risk of illness can be minimized. However, further research is now required to determine the pollutants involved. Possible suspects are silicon dioxide, asbestos, organic solvents and engine exhaust. (as)

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