Asbestos, silica exposure linked to RA risk
medwireNews: Male workers with occupational exposure to asbestos or silica may have an elevated risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Swedish researchers report.
In their analysis of data from 11,285 people with RA enrolled in the EIRA study or RA registries between 1996 and 2013, and 115,249 controls from the Swedish population register, Anna Ilar (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm) and fellow researchers found that rates of prior asbestos exposure were higher among men with RA than those without, at 17% versus 12%.
Similarly, rates of occupational silica exposure were higher among men with versus without RA, at 19% versus 13%. These findings translated into an approximately 20–40% increased risk for both seropositive and seronegative RA among men with versus without prior exposure to asbestos or silica after adjustment for factors including age, sex, and smoking.
Ilar et al note that odds ratios were lower among women than men, but less than 1% of women in the study were categorized as having been exposed to asbestos or silica, and the “duration and intensity of their exposure were lower.”
“The demonstrated association between exposure to asbestos and silica and risk of RA merits special attention in countries where exposure to these agents is still high,” write the researchers in RMD Open.
“Concerning potential mechanisms, it is known that deposition of both asbestos and silica particles in the lungs may initiate an inflammatory response, including the release of proinflammatory cytokines and production of autoantibodies,” they say.
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