A new population-based case-control study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases suggests stomach and urinary tract infections are associated with a reduced risk for rheumatoid arthritis. This study aimed to test how infections at different sites might be involved in the reported connection between infection and rheumatoid arthritis. The analysis used a Swedish database to investigate 2,831 people with rheumatoid arthritis matched by age, sex and other characteristics to 3,570 healthy controls. Of the participants who reported stomach, urinary tract or genital infections approximately 25 % were less likely to have arthritis. The researchers acknowledge that their data depends on self-reports, which are not always reliable but they hope this will lead to further research into this connection. How do you counsel your patients about strengthening their immune system?
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