According to research found in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (online December 7, 2006), smokers with arthritis in the knee suffer from more rapid deterioration than non-smokers. The subjects of the study were 159 men with knee osteoarthritis. The study followed them for 2 ½ years. MRI scans were used to measure cartilage loss in the knee throughout the study. The men also rated their knee pain at each follow-up visit.

Of the 159 subjects, 19 were smokers (12%). Although the smokers tended to weigh less and be younger than the non-smokers, they suffered from more pain and degeneration (actual cartilage loss) as the study progressed.