Understanding Autoimmune Disease: Risk Factors That May Cause Autoimmune Disorders

Published by Health Professional

on Monday, March 27th 2023

Trending Health Topics

Autoimmune diseases, characterized by an immune response attacking healthy body tissues, have become increasingly prevalent in recent years. 

While researchers are still seeking answers on what causes over 80 autoimmune diseases, they have discovered certain risk factors that can increase the chances of immune tolerance and potentially lead to autoimmune conditions. 

By understanding these risk factors, you can take proactive steps to reduce your likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease.

Gender and Autoimmune Disease

  1. Autoimmune diseases are predominantly more common in women than men, with approximately 78% of those affected by autoimmune diseases being female. 

Various autoimmune diseases are more prevalent in females, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, which has a 95% occurrence rate, and systemic lupus erythematosus, with up to 95% female patients. 

The difference in disease prevalence between genders is attributed to various factors like hormonal changes, an additional X chromosome, and immune responses.

Genetics and Autoimmune Disease

  1. Some autoimmune disorders like lupus and multiple sclerosis have familial tendencies. Genetic predisposition towards autoimmunity increases the risk of developing an autoimmune condition due to inherited genetic variations that impact immune response. 

Epigenetics study how environmental triggers like infections, toxic chemicals, intestinal dysbiosis, or dietary factors interact with the epigenome to activate or deactivate parts of the genome through complex chemical reactions. 

Epigenetics highlights our lifestyle’s critical role in generating or preventing disease.

Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome and Autoimmune Disease

  1. An accumulation of three or more autoimmune conditions is called Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome (MAS), is seen in about 25% of patients. Individuals with celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s, or Sjogren’s may exhibit MAS. 

It is uncertain why this happens, but genetics and environmental factors are likely contributors.

Obesity and Autoimmune Diseases

  1. Obesity is a growing global concern, with roughly 35% of the population affected. Excess weight is associated with over ten autoimmune diseases and may be implicated in others. 

Research has found that obesity increases the risk of developing autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. When adipose tissue accumulates and becomes dysfunctional, it can lead to an increased or dysregulated secretion of compounds called adipokines, which tend to be pro-inflammatory and significantly alter immune system function.

Smoking and Exposure to Toxic Agents

  1. Smoking is a well-known health hazard linked to various diseases, including autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis. 

Burning tobacco produces thousands of toxic chemicals that impact the immune system through inflammatory responses, immune suppression, dysregulation of cytokines, and the development of autoantibodies. 

Exposure to other toxins like air pollutants, crystalline silica, ultraviolet radiation, or organic solvents is also associated with developing autoimmune diseases.

Certain Medications and Autoimmune Diseases

  1. Many commonly used medications have potential side effects that can trigger autoimmune conditions. 

For instance, medication taken to decrease blood pressure, manage depression and anxiety, or balance cholesterol levels can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases. 

If you are experiencing any adverse effects from medication, you should consult a medical professional.

In conclusion

The risk factors for developing autoimmune diseases are numerous and complex. However, understanding the underlying causes can help you take preventive steps to reduce your likelihood of developing an autoimmune condition.

Living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding toxins, and monitoring any medication side effects are all critical in reducing your risk of autoimmune disease.