• Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis

    A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
    It is possible to develop rheumatoid arthritis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.


    Although rheumatoid arthritis can develop at any age, you’re most likely to develop the condition between the ages of 25 and 45.


    Women are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men.

    Genetic Factors

    You are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis if there are other people in your family with this condition or with other autoimmune disorders. Genes called HLA (human leukocyte antigen genes) increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.

    Ethnic Background

    You have a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis if you are:
    • White
    • Native American (particularly belonging to the Yakima, Chippewa, or Inuit tribes)


    People who are obese may have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.


    Some studies have suggested that there is a connection between long-term smoking and the development of rheumatoid arthritis.


    Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/ .

    Ferri F, ed. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2010 . 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2009.

    Firestein ED, et al. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology . 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.

    Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Textbook of Internal Medicine . 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.

    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .

    Revision Information

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