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What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

ANSWER

Doctors don’t know the exact cause. Something seems to trigger the immune system to attack the joints and sometimes other organs. Some experts think that a virus or bacteria may change the immune system, causing it to attack the joints. Other theories suggest that in some people, smoking may lead to rheumatoid arthritis.

Certain genetic patterns may make some people more likely to get rheumatoid arthritis than others.

SOURCES: The Mayo Clinic. The Arthritis Foundation. National Library of Medicine. Food and Drug Administration

Reviewed by Tracy C. Shuman on August 01, 2005

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SOURCES: The Mayo Clinic. The Arthritis Foundation. National Library of Medicine. Food and Drug Administration

Reviewed by Tracy C. Shuman on August 01, 2005

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