Many rheumatoid arthritis patients take infliximab (Remicade) or adalimumab (Humira), known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking antibodies, usually after other treatments have failed to treat arthritis symptoms.

New finding: Scientists reviewed studies involving 3,493 patients who took one of these drugs and 1,512 patients who took a placebo.

Result: Those who took TNF-blocking antibodies had 3.3 times the risk of developing cancer and 2.2 times the risk for serious infections, such as pneumonia, as those who took a placebo.

Theory: The drugs interfere with the body's infection-fighting mechanisms and its ability to defend itself against cancerous cells.
Self-defense: Patients who take these drugs should watch for symptoms of infection, such as fever and chills...get their vaccinations, such as those for influenza (flu) and pneumonia...and ask their doctors about appropriate cancer screenings.

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