Patients find out what a help they are

A special patients' forum has highlighted how arthritis sufferers in Norfolk are helping with research that is offering a better understanding of the condition.

By Mark Nicholls

Health Correspondent

A special patients' forum has highlighted how arthritis sufferers in Norfolk are helping with research that is offering a better understanding of the condition.

The meeting, in Norwich, heard how local arthritis sufferers have played a significant part in helping to establishing risk factors for developing the condition such as smoking, obesity, and eating insufficient fruit and vegetables.

The event gave people with inflammatory arthritis, who have been involved in the Norfolk Arthritis Register (NOAR) for the past 18 years, had their first chance to find out what happens to the information they provide and the results that have been published.

They were invited to a special half-day patients' forum at UEA on Saturday to listen to academics and experts tell them about the importance of their continued participation in the quest for better treatment and ultimately a cure for inflammatory arthritis.

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NOAR, which is funded by medical research charity the Arthritis Research Campaign, has been recruiting people from Norfolk with inflammatory types of arthritis since 1989.

The aim of the register is to follow people over several years to learn more about why people develop these types of arthritis in the first place and then to find out what happens to them afterwards.

There have been over 60 publications from the NOAR research and the findings have been presented to health professionals at scientific meetings worldwide.

However, the weekend meeting was the first aimed solely at the people who have taken part in the NOAR research over the last 18 years. Another event is now planned for next year.

Speakers from both Norfolk, including local rheumatologists Professor David Scott and Tarnya Marshall, and arc's Epidemiology Unit in Manchester where much of the analysis takes place presented their findings to a packed hall.

Research breakthroughs from NOAR include the discoveries that smoking and obesity are risk factors for developing inflammatory arthritis, as are diets low in Vitamin C and high in red meat.

The NOAR team is currently looking at three important areas: malignancies, infections and heart disease.

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