Increase in the Number of Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis

SAN FRANCISCO, CA. (ConCienciaNews) ­ To the surprise of some doctors, a recent study shows that more women in the United States are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, when this illness had been on the decline for many years.

The report was announced this week at the annual meeting of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals in San Francisco.

Compared to other decades, when approximately 36 out of every 100,000 women developed rheumatoid arthritis each year, the study showed this figure had risen to 54 women. The incidence among men stayed the same (approximately 29 cases in every 100,000 men), while at a general level, the disease increased from 0.85% to 0.95%.

“This is an important finding and this means that more studies are necessary to better identify the causes and treatment for this devastating disease,” said Sherine Gabriel, rheumatologist and leader of the study.

The incidence of rheumatoid arthritis began its decline from 1955 until 1994, a pattern that changed in the mid-‘90s. According to an analysis, from 1995 to 2005, the percentage of both incidence and prevalence of this disease increased.

Researchers are unclear on the cause of this increase among women, but they speculate that the environmental factor may be a variable

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissue, and may also affect other organs.

To this day, the causes of this disease are unknown. The body’s immune system usually counteracts foreign substances, such as viruses. However, in autoimmune diseases, the immune system confuses or takes healthy tissues as foreign substances and, as a result, the body attacks itself.

This disease may appear at any age and women are more affected than men. Rheumatoid arthritis generally affects the joints in both sides of the body equally, with the wrists, fingers, toes and ankles being the most commonly affected parts of the body. The development and seriousness of rheumatoid arthritis may vary significantly. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), infection, genes and hormones may contribute to its development.

In this study, 350 people living in Olmsted County in Minneapolis were analyzed, with an average age of 56.7 years old, of which 67% were women.