According to new research conducted at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may have better odds of achieving remission by maintaining a healthy body weight. The study found that those who were most overweight had a 65 percent lower chance of disease remission than people who maintained a healthier weight.
The study’s findings were presented recently at the American College of Rheumatology conference in Boston. The study is considered preliminary until its publication in a peer reviewed journal.
Although the study demonstrated a link between rheumatoid arthritis remission and weight, it was not designed to demonstrate a causative effect between weight and remission status.
Rheumatoid arthritis is experienced by almost 1.5 million Americans. The chronic disease can be debilitating, leading to painful swelling of joints and joint deformity. Women are three times more likely than men to develop the condition, which normally is first seen between the ages of 30 and 60 years of age, according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Susan Goodman.
The induction of remission is a major focus of treatment. Remission is considered to be present if there are no or low signs of active inflammation.
The study was conducted with the help of almost 1,000 rheumatoid arthritis patients who developed the condition earlier than normal. It demonstrated that underweight people had a 45 percent lower chance of going into remission than those who maintained a normal weight. Obese persons were found to have a 40 to 60 percent lower chance of achieving remission.
The study also found that specific patients had greater odds of achieving remission than others. This group included non-smokers and those who began their treatment with the prescription drug methotrexate. Fast-responders to treatment were also found to enter sustained remission more readily.
Goodman stated that the researchers were surprised to learn the major role obesity played in a given patient’s odds of achieving remission. She expressed her belief that the inflammation caused by obesity may be a possible reason.
Researchers are unsure why the odds of achieving remission seem to be affected by whether the person is underweight. Goodman said it may be that those who are underweight were more likely to be smokers or suffering another condition that may have led to inflammation. She stated her desire to conduct a larger study in the future to solidify the study’s conclusions.