Arthritis warning: Those who work in THESE professions more likely to suffer joint pain
The findings, published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, show that work-related factors - such as noxious airborne agents - may contribute to the pathogenesis of arthritis.
Our findings therefore indicate that work-related factors, such as airborne harmful exposures, may contribute to disease development
Anna Ilar - Study leader
Environmental factors are thought to play a role in the development of arthritis by triggering autoimmune reactions in susceptible people.
To examine whether certain occupational hazards and exposures might be involved, researchers analysed information from 3,522 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 5,580 controls from the Swedish population-based EIRA (Epidemiological Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis) study.
The study gathered information on environmental, genetic, and immunological factors collected from blood samples and questionnaires between 1996 and 2014.
The researchers found that male workers in the manufacturing sector had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis than workers within the professional, administrative, and technical sectors.
Within the manufacturing sector, male electrical and electronics workers and material handling operators had a two-fold increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Bricklayers and concrete workers had a three-fold increased risk.Among women, assistant nurses and attendants had a slightly increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
But those in the manufacturing sector did not.The researchers' analyses took into account participants' smoking habits, alcohol use, educational level, and body mass index (BMU), all of which are factors associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Study leader Anna Ilar, a PhD candidate at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, said: "Previous studies have not considered these lifestyle-related risk factors to the same extent.
"Our findings therefore indicate that work-related factors, such as airborne harmful exposures, may contribute to disease development."
She added: "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 said more research is needed to pinpoint the exposures that may be involved.
Potential suspects include silica, asbestos, organic solvents, and motor exhaust fumes.