Current smokers had a significantly higher cytokine score compared with former or never smokers, according to a new study of U.S. veterans. The inflammatory cytokines found to be elevated in current smokers were many of the molecules that have been most strongly implicated in the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Current smokers also had significantly higher levels of RA disease activity than never smokers. Yet, those who quit smoking and maintained abstinence from smoking had reduced levels of inflammatory markers and disease activity similar to levels observed in never smokers.
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