Neglecting arthritis pain raises serious health risk

April 14, 2020

ARTHRITIS, a condition common among elders, is often neglected especially when a patient is taking medications.

Several studies found that people with arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis (RA), are at a greater risk for certain types of cancer -- breast, gastrointestinal, liver, and colon cancers. However, how they manage their condition is the deciding factor. Experts said these factors include genetics, lifestyle, and use of medications for arthritis. Some factors can be controlled while others can’t.

What are these factors that can worsen RA?

* Diet. A high fat diet is touted unhealthy for gut system. When the bad bacteria are allowed to proliferate too much, we get sick. When we have a strong population of good bacteria, everything about our digestion and use of fuel just works better. Researchers said a chronically unhealthy gut can incite both arthritis and cancer.

To achieve a better balance, feed your good bacteria on a variety of prebiotic foods including garlic, onions, bananas, apples, artichokes, and asparagus. These foods contain a type of resistant starch that is not directly digested by our bodies but instead feeds good bacteria and allows it to thrive over the bad bacteria.

* Lifestyle. Drinking and smoking habits can spark inflammation and can cause unimaginable pain and then cancer. The connection between tobacco use and cancer had been well established. It is also a factor in the development and treatment of arthritis. Smoking will damage joints, connective tissue, and bones as long as you keep doing it. Tobacco also causes medications used to treat arthritis to be less effective.

On the other hand, people who consume alcohol on a regular basis are at a greater risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, stomach, liver, and colorectal system. Drinking alcohol is also more likely to trigger gout, which is a form of arthritis that involves the formation of hard crystals in the joints. Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of alcohol per day for women and two for men.

* Medications. Some medications for RA may increase your cancer risk. Similarly, certain meds used to treat cancer can cause arthritis. Some of the drugs in question are NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) meds, and corticosteroid injections. DMARDs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) have been linked to cancers of the bladder and urinary tract, as well as lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma. There is some debate about this link, but be sure to ask your doctor about an increased cancer risk before starting any new arthritis medication.

* Reduced activity. When your joints hurt, you may hesitate to move around as a result. If your arthritis pain stops your workouts, your cardiovascular health will decline. Weight gain may also occur, which only puts further strain on joints and leads to more inflammation. If you allow the pain to lead into a sedentary lifestyle, this opens the door to other serious health problems.

* Inflammation. Inflammation is generally the source of pain for people with arthritis. It is an immune response that attempts to isolate a damaged part of the body from healthy portions.

It can be useful in certain circumstances, such as a localized infection, but becomes harmful when it’s chronic and needless. Over time, chronic inflammation can cause DNA damage and lead to cancer.

What should you do? Eating an anti-inflammatory diet full of fresh vegetables and fruits can make a huge difference, not only in your comfort level, but also in the health of your digestive system.

Staying active and using an ice-and-heat regimen can reduce stiffness and pain. You may ultimately need a prescription from your doctor for arthritis medication, but with attention to employing natural remedies first, you can reduce the amount you take.