"Our findings suggest that more than half (54 percent) of the increased risk from smoking in the development of rheumatoid arthritis is due to interaction with sodium intake," said Bjorn Sundstrom from department of public health and clinical medicine at Umea University, Sweden.

"The 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," Sundstrom stated.
The study focused on 386 individuals who had stated their dietary habits as part of a community intervention programme for a median of 7.7 years before the onset of RA symptoms.

"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," Sundstrom emphasized.

The paper was published online in the journal Rheumatology.

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