Parents' Addiction May Be Linked to Arthritis in Offspring

TUESDAY April 1, 2014, 2014 -- Adults whose parents were addicted to alcohol or drugs are at increased risk for arthritis, a new Canadian study contends.

Researchers looked at more than 13,000 adults and found about 20 percent had been diagnosed with arthritis. More than 14 percent had at least one parent with a drug or alcohol problem.

After adjusting for age, sex and race, the University of Toronto researchers concluded that adults whose parents were addicted to alcohol or drugs had a 58 percent greater risk of arthritis.

The findings were published online recently in the International Journal of Population Research.

The study found an apparent connection between substance abuse by parents and risk of arthritis in their children, but it did not prove cause-and-effect.

"We had anticipated that the adult offspring's health behaviors such as smoking, obesity and alcohol consumption might explain the strong link between parental addictions and arthritis, however we did not find this to be the case," study co-author Jessica Liddycoat said in a university news release.

"Even after adjusting for these adult health behaviors, as well as income, education, a history of childhood maltreatment and mood and anxiety disorders, we found that parental addictions was still a statistically significant factor associated with 30 percent higher odds of arthritis," she added.

Further research is needed to determine how parents' addiction and increased arthritis risk in adult children are linked, the study authors said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about arthritis.

Posted: April 2014


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