Women and Autoimmune Disease

Women and Autoimmune Disease
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Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue. More than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases are known to exist, impacting almost every major organ system in the body.1


Heredity, genetics, and environmental triggers are thought to lead to autoimmune diseases, and while accurate statistics on the global prevalence of autoimmune diseases in women are difficult to ascertain, they are considered a significant cause of chronic illness and death.2


Autoimmune diseases affect women disproportionately. In the U.S. alone, 8% of the population suffers from autoimmune diseases, 78% of whom are women.3 Rheumatoid arthritis is an example of an autoimmune disease that affects women more than men.

  • Several reports have indicated that autoimmune diseases collectively affect 5–10% of the developed world’s population.2
  • Female sex hormones are listed as environmental triggers for autoimmune diseases.2
  • Autoimmune diseases are listed as one of the top-10 causes of death in women 65 years and younger.2

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1Website [Internet]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001819/

2American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc. [Internet]. [cited 2013 Mar 12] Available from: https://www.aarda.org/press_release_display.php?ID=53

3Website [Internet]. [cited 2013 Mar 12] Available from: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/10/11/pdfs/04-0367.pdf