Why Is Rheumatoid Arthritis More Common in Women?


It has been a difficult exercise for scientists to come up with explanations as to why Rheumatoid arthritis is more prevalent to women than in men. There have been some explanations but the topic has never been conclusively worked out. In the recent research study, it was found out that some genes that are specifically related to the X chromosome are thought to be among those genes that are responsible for rheumatoid arthritis; and they can help explain why women are more likely than men to develop this condition. In Normal circumstances, the genes of women contain two X chromosomes while those of men contain both an X and Y chromosome.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

In this particular study, it was established that some X-chromosome genes among the 14 genes, were specifically responsible for rheumatoid arthritis in both men and women. According to findings by the researchers at the Arthritis Research U.K. by the department of Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, these new genes now adds up to the already known (32) genes. These researchers are now convinced that these genes are responsible for rheumatoid arthritis.

Another separate research study was conducted and its findings were published recently online in the journal Nature Genetics. This particular study brought together scientists from around the world; who examined samples of DNA that was drawn from more than 27,000 people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. While addressing the media, the study lead author Jane Worthington (professor of chronic disease genetics at the University of Manchester), said that indeed genetic variations along gender lines are responsible this form of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis manifests itself differently from osteoarthritis (arthritis associated with aging and wear and tear). In most cases, it develops among people aged between 25 and 55; and causes arthritis inflammation in the joints leading to stiffness, pain, swelling and reduced joint function.

In addition to the above argument, Lifestyle and environmental factors like diet, smoking, pregnancy and infection are believed to play big role in rheumatoid arthritis. According to Alan Silman (medical director of Arthritis Research U.K.), these findings represent the first argument that involves genetic association to the relationship between rheumatoid arthritis and the X chromosome. He alluded to the importance of this to the possibility of helping us to understand healthy foods for osteoarthritis. According to the leading author of the study Dr. Tuulikki Sokka of Jyvasyla Central Hospital in the state of Finland; Women suffer from musculoskeletal diseases more than men due to their smaller muscles combined with their small bodies.

In another separate study by David Pisetsky who is the MD and chief of rheumatology department at the Duke University Medical Center(in Durham, N.C.);he found out that that the fact that women can become pregnant could be another reason why they are disproportionately affected by autoimmune diseases such RA and lupus. He further noted that the immune system of women is differently built than that of men. He observed that women could get pregnant, and this meant that there is a foreign person in the mother hence her response to attack against her is poor. He said that the same mechanism that allows pregnancy can also allow autoimmune disease to attack her. He further tried to connect pregnancy with RA, where it strikes women during their childbearing years; he therefore thought pregnancy can be an issue to RA. He observed that while a woman is pregnant, RA disease tends to improve, and this could be due to the fact that most of the RA medicines are toxic to the fetus. Due to this fact, women who were pregnant were withdrawn from RA medications because their immunity could do with this problem at this stage of pregnancy.