Healthy Living

Salt And Rheumatoid Arthritis: Smokers Who Overconsume Salty Foods Are At Twice The Risk

Salty snacks
Don't make a bad thing worse by eating salty snacks. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Hey smokers, your penchant for salty snacks? It’s doubling your risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a recent study published in the journal Rheumatology.

The 386 smokers involved with the study had previously participated in a community intervention program, based in Sweden, nearly eight years prior to the onset of their RA symptoms. This program collected data on their diet, exercise routine, and smoking habit, along with samples of their blood. After researchers compared current smokers to a control group of 1,886 people, they found that a higher sodium intake in only those who smoked increased risk for RA.

"Additive interaction analyses suggested that approximately half (54 percent) of the increased risk from smoking in the development of RA is due to interaction with sodium intake,” said Björn Sundström, lead study author from the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Rheumatology at Umeå University, Sweden, in a press release. “A large influence of sodium intake on smoking as a risk factor for RA is also supported by the fact that we could not identify any significant proportion of risk from smoking in individuals with a low sodium intake.”

What Sundström is saying is a high sodium intake was only prevalent in current smokers. To him, these findings will shed some light on the process of the development of RA among smokers.

“The finding of sodium being a risk factor for the development of RA among smokers is intriguing, as it may explain discrepancies in previous studies of diet as a risk factor for RA,” he said.

RA is the latest to join a lengthy list of the negative outcomes of smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking cigarettes harms nearly every organ of the body and leads to more deths than HIV, substance and alcohol abuse, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents combined (which is why CVS Health has stopped selling tobacco altogether).

Salty snackers can start to reduce their intake by waiting to add the salt to the food they’re cooking. This way, salt is on the top layer of food rather than sprinkled heavily throughout. Medical Daily has also previously reported that more potassium can offset particularly salty meals. And you may be surprised to know bananas aren’t the only source of potassium (it’s one of the food myths so many of us fall for).

Source: Sundstrom B, Johansson I, Rantapaa-Dahlqvist, S. Interaction between dietary sodium and smoking increases the risk for rheumatoid arthritis: results from a nested case-control study. Rheumatology. 2014.

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