So What Is Going On?

Keep up-to-date on the latest rheumatoid arthritis (RA) research with our brief research summaries. In the event that you were to ask visitors to name an ongoing medical condition related to weight problems, it’s likely that good they’d say “cardiovascular disease” or “diabetes.” And they’d be right; those two persistent diseases employ a strong relationship to unwanted weight. They will be the safe bets. But if you want long chances, put your cash on arthritis. It’s not as known commonly, but obesity in some full cases raises the risk of getting a certain type of arthritis; in all full cases, obesity makes arthritis worse.

Here’s a glance at what fat does to arthritis, as well as some tips to place you on the path to slimming down. Osteoarthritis, OA, is the most typical type of arthritis, impacting around 27 million Americans. It is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage – the flexible but tough connective tissue that covers the ends of bones at joints. Age, injury, heredity, and lifestyle factors all influence the chance of OA.

OA has a reasonable link to weight problems: The more weight that’s on the joint, the more pressured the joint becomes and the more likely it will wear down and be broken. Every pound of excess weight exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees. So a person who is 10 pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his legs; if a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on his knees.

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“So if you think about all the steps you ingest a day, you can view why it would lead to early damage in weight-bearing joint parts,” says Dr. Matteson. That’s why people who are overweight are at greater risk of developing arthritis in the first place. And a person has joint disease once, “the additional weight causes more problems on already damaged joints even,” says Dr. Matteson.

But it’s not only the extra weight on joint parts that’s causing harm. The fat itself is active tissues that creates and produces chemicals, a lot of which promote swelling. “These chemicals can influence the development of OA,” clarifies Jeffrey N. Katz, MD, a professor of medication and orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. This effect can be seen in the numerous studies that have linked extra weight to hand OA. For both reasons – excessive joint stress and inflammatory chemicals – fat should be held in check among all people, especially those who currently have OA.

Rheumatoid arthritis, RA, affecting 1.5 million Americans, is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own joint tissue. This creates inflammation throughout the body and can lead to joint pain and erosion. The inflammatory chemicals from fat that may be likely involved in OA are also culprits in RA. A few of these chemicals, called cytokines, can impact different body systems, including musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. Many types of cytokines are released by fats tissue, and researchers are working to recognize them and understand the precise ramifications of each kind. Other cytokines released by fat include tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-1 (IL-1).

Both are overactive in RA and cause irritation. You may be acquainted with the biologic drugs that suppress them, including etanercept, brand name Enbrel, and infliximab, brand Remicade, which target TNF-alpha, and anakinra, brand-name Kineret, which targets IL-1. One type of adipokine, called adiponectin, is good for the heart, since it comes with an anti-inflammatory effect on arteries – but it causes inflammation in joints. When people put on weight, they make less adiponectin, which may be one reason overweight RA patients can have less joint damage than those who find themselves not obese.

But don’t believe that means carrying excess fat has a defensive effect, says Dr. Matteson of the Mayo Clinic. And folks with RA – including those people who have a body mass index (BMI) in the standard range – have just one more reason to watch their diet and exercise. “The condition process changes body structure in an unfavorable way; it favors having more body fat and less muscle,” says Dr. Giles, who has conducted many reports on the consequences of body-inflammatory and structure arthritis.