A new study from Iceland and Sweden, and published in JAMA reveals one factor that can increase the risk of arthritis by a scary 36%.
What’s more, by managing this factor, you may be able to avoid arthritis flare-ups.
To get their data, they analyzed information collected by a population- and sibling-matched retrospective study performed in Sweden between 1981 and 2013.
The subjects included 106,464 people with stress-related disorders, 1,064,640 people who matched them on most characteristics but who were free from stress-related conditions, and 126,652 siblings of people from both groups.
They also used the National Patient Register to identify cases of stress-related conditions and autoimmune diseases.
During the 10-year follow-up period, people with stress diagnoses were 36% more likely develop an autoimmune disorder when compared their peers without stress diagnoses.
Those with posttraumatic stress disorder were 46% more likely to develop these conditions compared to their peers, and more than twice as likely to have three or more autoimmune conditions as compared to those without stress-related conditions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder was the most damaging of all the stress-related conditions.
The study is disturbing as it shows that, on top of a condition like post-traumatic stress disorder, which is already life altering, you are at an increased risk of developing another life-altering condition, like rheumatoid arthritis.
The authors speculated that this could be due to a combination of increased cortisol levels and increased circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines, both of which drastically increase the risk of arthritis.
Most of us who have suffered from arthritis can, however, bear witness to the fact that symptoms often worsen when we’re under a lot of stress. The lowering cortisol level with the use of simple relaxation exercises can be very beneficial to arthritis, even if you don’t suffer stress disorders.