chronic inflammatory conditions

A recent study has found an association between two chronic inflammatory conditions: rheumatoid arthritis and benign prostatic enlargement.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation, particularly in the hands, wrists, feet, and ankles. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is an enlargement of the prostate, also caused by inflammation. These seemingly unrelated conditions are both characterised as chronic inflammatory conditions.

A recent study set out to investigate whether there was an association between rheumatoid arthritis and benign prostatic hyperplasia. The study assessed over 18 000 patients derived from the Longitudinal Health Insurance Database from the Taiwan National Health Insurance program.

The study reported a significant difference in incidence of rheumatoid arthritis between patients who had benign prostatic hyperplasia, compared with those who did not. There was a consistent, significant association between incidence of benign prostatic hyperplasia and a previous diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers suggest that the two conditions may have a similar underlying mechanism. Previous research has shown that there is an increase in the levels of inflammatory proteins in rheumatoid arthritis. This increase in inflammatory markers has been suggested to result in damage to prostate tissue. The authors therefore suggest that the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis may actually cause the damage that leads to benign prostatic hyperplasia. The researchers suggest that further study should aim to assess if there is a causal relationship between the two chronic inflammatory conditions.


Tzeng, Y-M, Kao, L-T, Lin, H-C, Huang, C-Y. “A Population-Based Study on the Association between Benign Prostatic Enlargement and Rheumatoid Arthritis” PLOS One Published: July 14, 2015.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at




Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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