US researchers have discovered that patients suffer from less aggressive forms of rheumatoid arthritis, if they have a higher body mass index (BMI), Arthritis Research UK reports.
Conducted by a team of scientists from the Philadelphia Veterans´ Affairs Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania, the study involved X-Ray and MRI measurements of 1,068 rheumatoid arthritis patients. The patients were chosen from two separate clinical trials of the drug golimumab, and underwent the above mentioned scans at the baseline of the treatment, as well as 52 and 104 weeks later.
What the researchers found out was, that there seemed to be a correlation between a higher BMI and lower chance of rheumatoid arthritis post-treatment progressing. The results also show that such patients saw a lower probability of progression in MRI erosion scores over two years. Higher BMI patients also had a lower rate of bone oedema.
The researchers were struck when analysing the results, they couldn´t link the above findings to any other variable. It was, in fact, the higher BMI that indicates a less aggressive rheumatoid arthritis phenotype and aid in risk stratification, the team concluded.
Commenting on the study´s findings, a spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK said the results were surprising and presented an odd case where being overweight is actually good for you. She, however, noted that a higher BMI is a factor that increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the fist place. So, it is still in no way desirable.