‘Doc, I have had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) since last 10 yrs. I know this terrible disease inside out. It has ruined my life. I do not want my daughter to suffer from this. Can I do anything to prevent rheumatoid arthritis in her? Does science have any answer? Are there any meds/ strategies to prevent rheumatoid arthritis?‘
The words of my patient are still echoing in my mind. ‘Does science have an answer?’ For a long time, we were grappling with the best strategy to control RA. Hence, majority of the research was directed at this.
However, importance of the ‘pre-RA’ phase has been understood. ‘Pre-RA phase’ is the phase before the symptoms of RA actually appear. This phase is important from the preventive perspective.
We do know about a few proven strategies to prevent RA.
1) Smoking cessation — The risk of developing RA is about two times higher for male smokers than for nonsmokers. For women, the risk for smokers is approximately 1.3 times greater than for non-smokers. (We have seen this in detail previously)
2) Dental hygiene—Periodontal disease is a proven risk factor for RA. (We have discussed this previously on the blog)
3) Optimal body weight. This is a recent finding. We would soon have a dedicated blog post for this. As of now, aim at a healthy body weight to reduce chances of developing RA.
4) Adequate vitamin D intake.
A study specifically looking at the various risk factors for evolution of RA in those with family history is underway & should provide further insight.
So, RAers; your daughters need not suffer the way you did. We do have these definite, easy strategies to prevent RA in those genetically predisposed.