A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop rheumatoid arthritis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Although rheumatoid arthritis can develop at any age, you’re most likely to develop the condition between the ages of 30 and 60.
Women are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men.
You are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis if there are other people in your family with this condition or with other autoimmune disorders. Genes called HLA (human leukocyte antigen genes) increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
People who are obese may have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Some studies have suggested that there is a connection between long-term smoking and the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/rheumatoid-arthritis. Accessed July 24, 2013.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
website. Available at:
http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rheumatic_Disease/default.asp. Updated April 2009. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated July 2, 2013. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Who gets RA? Arthritis Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.arthritistoday.org/about-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/rheumatoid-arthritis/who-gets-ra-and-why/who-gets-ra/how-do-you-get-ra.php. Accessed July 24, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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