Updated 02 March 2018

Preventing rheumatoid arthritis

Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way of preventing rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


As is often the case with diseases of which the exact cause isn’t known, there’s no sure-fire way of preventing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

Smoking has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of RA, and persistent smoking in people suffering from RA may predict a poorer outcome.

But with early diagnosis of RA, aggressive treatment is possible, by means of which the disease can be stopped or slowed down. This could prevent increased joint damage over a long period of time.

A healthy diet, the right kind of exercise, no excessive drinking, no smoking and trying to reduce your stress levels will all contribute to your general health, whether you have RA, or not.

Reviewed by Dr Stella Botha, rheumatologist at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town (MBChB, MRCP, PhD), November 2017.


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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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