Indians beware – smoking can cause arthritis

Anshuman Batra, 37, a habitual smoker, always wanted to kick the butt. What finally compelled him to give up cigarettes after 20 years was arthritis – a disease that affects one in six people in India, especially smokers.

After suffering from severe knee pain for a week, Batra was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and was shocked to learn that smoking had played a key role in it.

`I was a heavy smoker since I had my first drag in school. Knowing the ill effects like heart disease and cancer, I always wanted to quit. But it came as a shocker to learn that smoking could also cause arthritis,` said Batra.

A form of joint disorder, arthritis involves the inflammation of joints and is usually associated with swelling, pain and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis characterised by a breakdown of cartilage, causing pain and stiffness. It occurs in 25 percent people above 50 years as the knee and hip joints wear off gradually with age.

World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that one in six people and one in three families are affected by arthritis in India. According to experts, RA and osteoarthritis (OA) are the most common types.

`More and more young people are now suffering from osteoarthritis. Earlier those in their late 50s or early 60s were affected by it but now even people in their late 30s and early 40s are also diagnosed with it,` said Rakesh Mahajan, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at BL Kapoor Hospital.

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