Low testosterone (low T) is a condition that affects many men.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that affects many women.

However, new studies are showing that low testosterone may actually serve as a predictor for rheumatoid arthritis in men.

Usually, RA is associated with women, primarily because it affects females two to three times more often than it affects men.

The same can be said for arthritis in general. About 26 percent of women are diagnosed with a form of arthritis at some point in their lives. Only 18 percent of men are.

But for men with so-called “low T,” that rate may be higher.

According to a study recently published in the medical journal Annals of Rheumatic Disease, men with low testosterone have a greater chance of developing rheumatoid factor-negative (RF-negative) RA. These men were compared with men who had levels of testosterone that were considered to be in the normal range

Read More: Get the Facts on Testosterone »

A Specific Type of RA

The study shows that specifically men with low T are more at risk of this particular subtype of RF-negative RA — also sometimes known as seronegative RA — and not RA in general.

This study suggests that these changes in hormone levels influenced both the onset of RA in men as well as the type of RA that they would develop.

“Since this is the first major study of testosterone and related hormones in the preclinical phase of RA, our findings should be verified in other populations,” said Dr. Mitra Pikwer, of Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, and his co-authors in a statement.

After taking into consideration body mass index and whether the male patients were smokers — both of which can increase rheumatoid arthritis risk — they found that men with low T were more inclined to eventually develop the disease, even if they initially tested negative for the rheumatoid factor.

“The main conclusion of the study is that hormone factors influence the risk of RA,” Pikwer told Bloomberg news.

If men begin to notice any changes in their body — hormonal or otherwise — it is important to see a doctor.

One out of four men over the age of 30 have low testosterone. Men are at least 24 percent less likely than women to visit a doctor on a regular basis.

With a condition like RA possibly looming around the corner for men with low T, it may be time to “man up” and make that appointment.

On a more positive note, it appears that RA tends to have a better chance of going into remission in its early stages for men than it does for women.