Swedish research has analysed information from 3,522 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 5,580 controls from the Swedish population-based EIRA (Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis) study.
The findings indicated that certain occupations may put workers at elevated risk, with male workers in the manufacturing sector found to be at a higher risk than workers in the professional, administrative or technical sectors, and bricklayers and concrete workers at a threefold increased risk. Women in the manufacturing sector did not have an increased risk, but only a relatively small number of women in the study worked in this sector.
The women’s occupational grouping in which there was a slight increase was assistant nurses and attendants, but there was no increase for female nurses, doctors or physiotherapists.
The researchers said the male findings indicated that work-related factors such as airborne harmful exposures may contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. “But a common trait in all four occupational groups associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in our study is that they are physically demanding. Physical workload is a proposed risk factor for osteoarthritis, but for rheumatoid arthritis less research has been conducted,” said the study.
The full study can be read here.