Osteoarthritis: Do Gender, Genetics, or Weight Play a Role?

Before the age of 45, men are more likely than women to develop osteoarthritis. After the age of 45, women are more likely then men to develop it. Also, more women than men develop knee arthritis, while more men than women develop hip osteoarthritis.
Being Overweight or Obese
Extra weight may place extra pressure on joints and cartilage, causing them to wear away. In fact, for every pound you gain, you add three pounds of pressure on your knees and six times the pressure on your hips. In addition, people with more body fat may have higher blood levels of substances that cause inflammation. Inflammation at the joints may raise the risk of osteoarthritis.
Weight loss can decrease stress on your knees, hips, and lower back, as well as lessen inflammation in your body. If you have osteoarthritis, losing weight may help improve your symptoms. Overweight or obese people who do not have osteoarthritis may reduce their risk of developing it by losing weight.
(Click BMI Calculator to find out if your weight is within a healthy range.)
Genetics play a role in the development of osteoarthritis. For example, if your grandmother or mother had osteoarthritis in the hand, you also are at an increased risk of developing it in the hand. Why this occurs is not known, but scientists continue to search for the specific gene or genes that increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
Gene mutations may be a factor in predisposing individuals to develop osteoarthritis. For example, scientists have identified a mutation (or gene defect) affecting collagen, an important part of cartilage, in people with an inherited kind of osteoarthritis that starts at an early age. The mutation weakens collagen protein, which may break or tear more easily under stress.
Osteoarthritis research scientists are looking for other gene mutations. In the future, a test to determine who carries the genetic defect (or defects) could help people reduce their risk of osteoarthritis by making lifestyle adjustments.
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