Occupational status should be considered in diagnostics and in estimations of risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in clinical practice, conclude the authors of a new study published in Arthritis Care & Research .
The recommendation follows new findings that certain occupations may put workers at an elevated risk of developing RA.
After examining data on 3,522 individuals with RA and 5,580 controls from the Swedish population-based EIRA (Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis) study, researchers found men working in the manufacturing sector had a higher risk of developing RA than workers within the professional, administrative, and technical sectors. Within this sector, male bricklayers and concrete workers had a threefold increased risk of RA than the reference group, while electrical and electronics workers and material handling operators had a twofold increased risk. Among women, assistant nurses and attendants had a slightly increased risk of RA. There was no increased risk amongst nurses.
“Our findings therefore indicate that work-related factors, such as airborne harmful exposures, may contribute to disease development,” said lead author, Anna Ilar. “It is important that findings on preventable risk factors are spread to employees, employers, and decision-makers in order to prevent disease by reducing or eliminating known risk factors,” she added.