Can Smoking Aggravate Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Smoking and Nodules

If they are repeatedly hit because of their location, surgery or a steroid injection to lessen their size is sometimes advised. Those who wear glasses or sit too often may also develop nodules on the point of impact, such as the bridge of their nose or on their backs and buttocks.

Upping Your Risks

If you smoke with RA, you are also putting yourself at a higher risk of developing a wide array of illnesses associated with smoking than the general population.

Although anyone who smokes is putting themselves at risk, you run a significant risk of developing heart disease, lymphoma, lung cancer and osteoporosis. This can be particularly bad since your immune system is already compromised, making it even more difficult to fight off diseases that may have developed.

Bluntly put, this can up your risk for not only developing diseases but also premature death associated with these complications.

Second-Hand Smoke and the Amount of Smoke Consumed

It has been shown through various studies that the amount of cigarettes smoked can also increase risks significantly. Those who smoke more regularly are at a higher risk of developing complications than those who smoke fewer cigarettes, however, any cigarette smoking can contribute to further health issues.

At present, there is no known link between second-hand smoke and RA, although it is probably logical to deduce that those exposed to a significant amount of second-hand smoke are likely to develop RA or complications associated with RA, just as their smoking counterparts.


While inhaling second-hand smoke once in a while is probably not a particularly urgent health concern, it is likely best to avoid coming into contact with it anyway.

Does Quitting Smoking Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

It is advisable for anyone to quit smoking as soon as possible, but anyone diagnosed with RA is advised to take this even more seriously. Although it can take 20 years for the body to return to a “baseline” (or the levels at which it was before you took up smoking), the effects of quitting smoking are almost immediate.

Within ten years of quitting smoking, the risk of developing lung cancer will decrease by half. It can also significantly lower the risk of stroke and heart symptoms.

While it may take a long time for the body to return to baseline, there are often immediate effects for quitting smoking in people up to the age of 80.

You can speak to your doctor or go to your local pharmacy to talk about the best way to quit smoking. If smoking has eased your RA symptoms, speak to your rheumatologist about how to manage this so smoking will no longer be beneficial to you.


Mayo Clinic (Nicotine Dependence)

Oxford Journals (Cigarette smoking and severity of rheumatoid arthritis)

Ash Scotland (Smoking and Rheumatoid Arthritis)

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