Reducing Your Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are no current guidelines to reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because the exact cause is not known. Managing certain RA risk factors may help. Steps include:

  • Quit smoking —When you quit smoking, the body begins to repair itself almost immediately. Increased RA risk is associated with more years of smoking.
  • Maintain a healthy weight— Obesity (primarily in women) may be linked to:
    • Higher overall risk of RA
    • Earlier onset of RA, generally before 55 years of age
    • Increased risk of RA when overweight at 18 years of age
  • Drink alcohol in moderation—Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced risk of RA. Moderate alcohol intake means 2 drinks or less per day for men, and 1 drink or less per day for women. Choosing not to drink alcohol is also acceptable.


Finckh A, Turesson C, et al. The impact of obesity on the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Ann Rheum Dis. 2014;73(11):1911-1913.

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