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Factors increasing arthritis risk in women: Details

Factors increasing arthritis risk in women: Details Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik.com)
Author: Daria Shekina

Women are three times more likely to suffer from arthritis than men. This is associated with various health factors that are unique to the female gender. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. RBC-Ukraine reports on the factors that increase the risk of arthritis in women, according to research published in RMD Open (Rheumatic & Musculoskeletal Diseases Open).

Scientists from Anhui Medical University in China claim that women using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause have an almost 50% higher likelihood of developing arthritis than those who do not. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects joints symmetrically and causes inflammation of internal organs. In women, rheumatoid arthritis occurs more frequently than in men.

The 12-year study, observing the health of over 200,000 women, revealed that the following factors could increase the development of arthritis:

  • Early onset of menopause
  • Having four or more children
  • Use of hormone replacement therapy

The purpose of such therapy is the pharmacological replacement of lost ovarian hormonal function by supplementing estrogen deficiency. According to the researchers' calculations, the use of HRT and early menopause (before the age of 45) is associated with an almost 50% increased risk of developing the disease. Giving birth to four or more children increases the likelihood of arthritis by 18%, and the onset of menstruation after the age of 14 by 17%.

Researchers note that this effect may be attributed to the use of older-generation HRT medications. Newer drugs are more natural analogs of estrogen and progesterone hormones, capable of providing anti-inflammatory effects. The increased risk of arthritis development in mothers with multiple children is also likely associated with changes in the levels of these hormones.