RA is caused by a problem with the immune system. It begins to attack healthy tissue. It is not clear what makes this happen. It is most likely a combination of factors in your genes and environment. Some known factors include:
Genes—people with RA often have a specific genetic defect
Defects in the immune system—may stop the immune cells from recognizing the body’s own tissues
Infection with specific viruses or bacteria—may start an abnormal immune response
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