Cigarettes and Ra

I was at my Rheumy Consultant last week. She of course spoke to me about my smoking habits. Life long smoker of 35 years. I already know the health implications and I know I will have to stop. I am six weeks off my tocilizumab injections because of a six week chest infection six weeks of antibiotics and six weeks of a flare up. She the consultant came away with a statement. Did I know that cigarette smoking causes Ra. I was totally shocked. Seemingly after trials of cigarette smoking this is what has been found out. Has anyone heard of this before?

18 Replies

  • Dunno about the effect on RA but as RA can affect the lungs would seem insane not to stop. And I did about 15 years ago, long before RA was diagnosed; so I know its hard and I did it with patches. Could still pick up a packet when feeling rotten but never have (yet!),

    I suspect in time they will not offer some treatments if people smoke as like with RA some medication is expensive and why treat someone with a death wish anyway. THAT IS NOT MEANT TO BE OFFENSIVE but a view I think will come eventually as the NHS struggles to pay for ever more expensive drugs.

    But its not easy to give up, and takes great courage and determination. Fags are highly addictive as we all know but help is very good these days. Our GP had a clinic which was self supporting and so like minded people helped each other it worked well and on the whole was not as bad as I thought it would be.

    I'm not going to say you must give up as I expect you know that, but what have you got to loose, except money, bad breath, smelly clothes and yellow teeth to name but a few things. Good luck and I hope you do give up regardless of the RA.

  • Not so much causal but certainly trials have been done in the past to determine whether there's more likelihood of people getting RD if they smoke, often concentrating more on there being no family history of RD & smokers with RD. There is plenty of info on the web if you type in your search engine "trials cigarette smoking & rheumatoid arthritis".

  • What I've read is that many people have the make-up to get RA, but it can lie dormant unless triggered. And smoking is a trigger, as is extreme stress and other things.

    This sort of makes sense to me, as lots of people have the Rheumatoid Factor without having active RA - which is why it's such a lousy diagnostic test. (Tho' it would be interesting to know how many smokers have the RF factor, wouldn't it, or whether they're all non-smoking stress free people?)

    Anyway, I used to smoke but gave up. And while I still have RA my health has certainly improved since I stopped. So do try to stop. It's tough to start with, but that didn't last long for me.

  • What about passive smoking. I smoked for a short while when young, but gave up over 40 years ago, long before my diagnosis of RA. But both my grandfathers smoked heavily as did my uncles and aunts. Parents never did though.

  • Well I've never smoked in my life and I got RA , but I did have a problem with the wall of my bladder a couple of years ago and that's when my RA problems started and I'm almost certain their linked

  • I believe there is a link between increased risk of RA and smoking. I saw this on the NRAS website but I can't find it right now.

  • There's an article in todays paper about the link between smoking and motor neurone disease too.

  • Ive read some where on line that smoking stops the ra drugs working properly but I cant remember where I read it - google it x

  • Hi there, I smoked for 59 yes 59 years. Both my parents smoked, aunts, uncles, and grandparents as well. Apart from RD I have COPD, heart disease and stomach problems. If anyone should give up it is me. After all these years I have tried everything the NHS has thrown at me, plus acupuncture and hypnotherapy, I finally managed it 4 weeks ago. I have done it with an ECig, yes I know it is early days but I am keeping my fingers crossed(when I can ).

    The thing I am trying to say is please don't stop trying to stop, I know only too well that it is very, very hard, but also don't be pressurised it causes stress and makes you smoke more. That is not good for your RD. very best of luck, keep well.

  • Well done diddydriver, I hope you manage to stay off the fags. xx

  • I don't know about causing it, but I do know that there is increasingly strong evidence that smoking has a definite extra impact on people with autoimmune conditions, of which RA is one.

  • hi creakybones. had same discussion with my rheumy nurse tis week. I told her I do want to give up but I need the "fix" at the moment whilst all these tests are ongoing. I told her I have got an e-cig, just building up to starting it. she advised against this as still breathing in an oil no one knows what long term effects this will have on organs. she told me to stick to patches, so i'm going to request some from my gp tomorrow. fingers crossed for us both. Babs x

  • Hi babs, I hope the patches work for you.

  • I smoked for over thirty years and in May 2012 I quit. I actually started to hate smoking, but was addicted to the nicotine.Outside a shop window one afternoon, I caught sight of myself hunched over a lighter in the wind and rain lighting up ,plumes of acrid blue smoke enveloping my freshly washed hair . My manicured fingernails stained sunset yellow. I looked hideous .

    I made an appointment with my GP and was prescribed boxes of Nicorette inhalers, I knew patches wouldn't work, I had to have that back of the throat hit you get when dragging on a fag .

    I was given a very silly looking wall chart , I didn't think it would help, but ticking off each day of no smoking did prove to be an incentive and felt like an achievement.

    After a few months I switched to Vapour cigarettes, purely because afriend commented that the Nicorette inhaler I was puffing on, looked like I was sucking on a tampon, not a good look.

    Began with high strength nicotine liquid and gradually reduced it down to 0% nicotine.

    Twelve months after quitting I was diagnosed with Sudden Onset Sero Negative RA.

    I believe RA is caused by many factors. In my case I have considered that smoking was supressing my immune system by altering it , damaging it. Around the same time I quit, I had two impacted wisdom teeth extracted , came down with yet another bout of Strep throat ( something that has plagued me since childhood) and hormone levels confirmed I was in early menopause...... a perfect storm.

    If I could turn the clock back I wish I had never smoked or had given up years ago. I thought it would be a lot harder to do so, but with all the alternatives out there now, for me it really was not that difficult.

    One of the negative aspects of quitting, is that my sense of smell has returned. I now hate the smell of cigarettes and it makes me feel quite sick. I have also become sanctimonious and lecture other smokers on how easy I found it was to give up, which I know isn't the same for everyone.

  • In my local clinic there are lots of posters up about smoking and its impact on RA.

    This link provides some information around smoking and RA and the various ways it may impact on development of the illness and treatment. Some of it is quite complex, but the key points and the key recommendations are fairly clearly written.

  • Hi Creakybones I believe the decision is yours about stopping, and I do not believe you should be denied meds because of it. As I'm overweight that will be the next reason to attack. I smoked for 30 years, however I stopped because I was diagnosed with severe COPD and asthma. But more frightening was I developed nodules on my lungs, I had to wait nearly 12 months to see if they were growing and malignant, fortunately they were not, however I was informed that some forms of RA attacks your lungs causing irriparable damage, so on top of the COPD I could get further damage. That's when I really regretted the damage I had done to myself through smoking. I was also informed at that time that smoking may have instigated the RA. And because my lungs are severely damaged and I have severe RA I of course put weight on. I hope you whatever you decide you do for yourself. Google everything, and ask for information on here, not to frighten yourself but so you have the full picture to help you decide the future.

  • Hi

    This has been a very hot topic for several years. You can view the information published by NRAS on Smoking and RA on this link

    Best wishes


    I wish you every success in your endeavours to give up.

  • I have RA and have never smoked in my life, all started in an injured knee joint, and spread to all my joints until I was crippled, so for me the injury was the trigger.

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