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Hi, I am a forty two years old woman. I am a smoker. Few weeks ago I started having pain in the joints of my legs. I went to see a doctor. After some tests and questions, he diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis. One of the questions was "do I smoke"? Can you please tell me how are RA and smoking connected?

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Hi, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that our immune system recognizes our tissue as a foreign substance and acts against it. There are only guesses what causes it. Genetics (means that it is inheritable) and hormonal changes have been linked with it. RA causes pain in joints. When occurs, it does not "attack" only one, but several joints. This illness can go away in a couple of months causing no damage, but can in its severe form last for years and even a lifetime. In this case harm made to the joints can be very serious. Studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of having rheumatoid arthritis. It is also known that smoking can cause the severe form of RA. Since you have been diagnosed with RA, I suggest, for the mentioned reasons, that you quit smoking. If you find it hard to do on your own, you should talk to a therapist who will be able to help you.
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