Men in the manufacturing sector and women who work as nurses are more at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than people in other professions, a research has showed.
The findings showed that within the manufacturing sector, male electrical and electronics workers and material handling operators had a two-fold increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis than men in professional, administrative and technical sectors.
Bricklayers and concrete workers had a three-fold increased risk.
On the other hand, for women working in the manufacturing sector, no increase in the risk of arthritis was observed, which might be explained by the relatively small number of women who work in this sector compared to men, the researchers said.
“Our findings indicate that work-related factors, such as airborne harmful exposures, may contribute to disease development,” said Anna Ilar, of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
Potential suspects include silica, asbestos, organic solvents, and motor exhaust, the research showed.
“It is important that findings on preventable risk factors are spread to employees, employers, and decision-makers in order to prevent disease by reducing or eliminating known risk factors,” she added, in the paper appearing in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
For the study, the team analysed information from 3,522 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and 5,580 controls.
The study gathered information on environmental, genetic, and immunological factors collected from blood samples and questionnaires between 1996 and 2014.
The researchers’ analyses took into account participants’ smoking habits, alcohol use, educational level, and body mass index, all of which are factors associated with rheumatoid arthritis.