PTSD and RA: Is There a Smoking Gun?

“I noticed years ago in working with veterans that people who have severe chronic PTSD also had inflammatory diseases,” said Joseph A. Boscarino, PhD, of the Geisinger Clinic in Danville, Penn. “They tended to have diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis and it was thought to relate to an increase in the immune response,” he told MedPage Today.

Among a cohort of 2,500 Vietnam veterans, chronic PTSD was associated with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, diabetes, and thyroid disease…

While these studies suggested an association between PTSD and rheumatoid arthritis, they were limited in that the study populations consisted primarily of male military veterans… Therefore, to further explore these concerns, Lee and colleagues analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which began enrolling participants in 1989 and includes more than 116,000 women who regularly respond to questionnaires about health and lifestyle, including smoking…

In addition, in the subgroup analysis of women with four or more symptoms who began to smoke after PTSD onset, the risk remained similar… meaning that smoking also was not a mediator and the risk for rheumatoid arthritis was therefore independent of smoking, and that other factors must be involved.

Further complicating the relationship with smoking is a recently identified genetic association, according to Boscarino. “Something interesting we discovered recently is that the CHRNA5 gene that predicts smoking also affects anxiety, fear, and stress,” he said…

Limitations of Lee’s study included the possibility of selection bias and the fact that causality cannot be assumed in the analysis. Lee disclosed financial relationships with Forest, Merck, Cubist, Perrigo, and Express Scripts.

4 thoughts on “PTSD and RA: Is There a Smoking Gun?

  1. Wow. You just blew my little brain away. Smoker, RA sufferer, psoriasis battler, and probable C-PTSD diagnosis, at least in part. Good to know deeper research is going on in regards to smoking. For f***’s sake, if I didn’t smoke some days I just couldn’t keep it together at ALL!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Researchers are trying to connect chronic pain and smoking, but is it part of the cause or is nicotine a treatment for anxiety and/or pain? Cigarettes have a bad rap because of the delivery system and all the toxins that tobacco companies add, but change the delivery system to vaping, and nicotine might just be considered a medicine. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hm! Well, certainly the action nicotine has as a carrier is well known here in NL. Most joints are rolled with tobacco in them; it helps to even out how a joint burns and it acts to aid absorption of THC through the blood.

        It would be REAL nice to have my docs stop bringing up the smoking, I must admit.

        Liked by 1 person

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