Why are women more likely to get rheumatoid disease?

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Four women with rheumatoid arthritis and dark hair laying on a white background and smiling

Women are 3x more likely to have rheumatoid disease (aka rheumatoid arthritis) than men. 

Rheumatoid disease (aka rheumatoid arthritis) causes the joints to become inflamed, which leads to symptoms like pain and stiffness, fatigue, brain fog and even a higher risk of heart disease.

Women are considerately more prone to rheumatoid than men are. This is also true of other autoimmune disorders like Lupus and Sjögren's syndrome too.

So what’s going on?

One theory is that hormones are involved in rheumatoid disease. Researchers have noticed that:

 - Rheumatoid disease often goes into remission during the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy

 - Women who have breastfed infants are at a decreased risk of developing rheumatoid disease compared to women who have never had children. 

 - Studies have linked rheumatoid flares to the menstrual cycle, and

 - Women are most commonly diagnosed with rheumatoid approaching or during menopause. 

Unfortunately, more studies are needed to fully understand why women are more susceptible to rheumatoid disease.

This is because autoimmunity is complex with multiple genetic and environmental factors.

Source: BMC Med 2009; 7 : 12. Sex differences in rheumatoid arthritis; more than meets the eye. Ronald F van Vollenhoven.

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