What are autoimmune disorders?
In this issue we look at the prevalence of autoimmune disease, the stages and characteristics of autoimmune disease and discuss the major areas of immune dysfunction involved in the progression of these diseases.
Autoimmune Disease and the Major Areas of Immune Dysfunction in Autoimmunity
Key points of this issue:
- The prevalence of autoimmune disease is increasing every year
- 1 out of 12 women and 1 out of 24 men have an autoimmune disease
- Autoimmunity results when the body’s immune system loses tolerance to the body’s self-tissue and begins targeting self-tissue for destruction
- The three stages of autoimmune disease
- Autoimmune disease is an incurable condition
- Characteristics of an autoimmune condition
- The main mechanisms of immune dysfunction in autoimmunity
The Autoimmune Epidemic
There is an explosion of autoimmune disease taking place worldwide. According to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association’s current statistics, “Approximately 50 million Americans, 20 percent of the population or one in five people, suffer from autoimmune diseases.” (1) The National Institutes of Health estimates up to 23.5 million Americans have an autoimmune disease. In comparison, cancer affects up to 9 million and heart disease up to 22 million. These numbers are staggering because they are referring to disease already taking place, not early-stage conditions that lead to autoimmune disease. They also point out that medical education provides minimal learning about autoimmune disease and that specialists are generally unaware of interrelationships among the different autoimmune diseases or advances in treatment outside their own specialty area. (2)
Autoimmune Disease in the U.S.
- Increasing every year
- Most cases are not diagnosed
- Most cases continue to progress
- Conventional healthcare has very little to offer besides steroids and immune-suppressing medications
- Conventional and alternative healthcare may not fully understand autoimmunity or even immunology
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