The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown; thus, predicting how it might be prevented is difficult. Because this form of arthritis is more common among women than men, some researchers are examining the role of hormones in triggering the disease.
The finding that women who breastfeed for at least one year are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis also suggests that hormones might be involved. Research in this area has focused on the sex hormones estrogen, androgen and progesterone.
Scientists have also been working to develop a vaccine that might prevent the autoimmune reactions that cause rheumatoid arthritis. For now, however, no vaccine is currently available.