Women and Autoimmune Disease- What you must know?
17 February 2021
Autoimmune diseases include a range of diseases that occur when the immune system identifies the body’s healthy cells as antigens and starts disrupting or damaging the healthy tissues. Autoimmune diseases can be systemic or can affect any specific organ or even the body systems.
For most autoimmune diseases, there is a clear gender difference in cases of prevalence, which indicates that females are more prone to this disease. Although the prevalence of the autoimmune disease in women is difficult to ascertain, it is considered a significant cause of chronic illness and death in many women all over the world. In the US alone, autoimmune diseases affect women disproportionately. Out of 8% of the population suffering from autoimmune diseases, 78% of them are women. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an example of an autoimmune disease that mostly affects the women population more than men.
Some of the important facts on why the autoimmune disease is more common in women are as below:
- In the United States alone, women represent 80% of most cases of autoimmune diseases
- Female Sex hormones are listed as potential triggers for autoimmune disease
- Autoimmune diseases are listed as one of the top-10 causes of death in women of old age and also middle-aged groups.
- The incidence of rheumatoid arthritis is two to three times higher in women than men, especially for women in their 60s
Reasons why women are more affected by the autoimmune disease:
There are several theories about why women are more prone to autoimmunity than men. Here are certain factors that researchers speculate to be the reasons for the higher incidence of autoimmune diseases in women than men. However, these are hypotheses and are still being studied.
The immunity that comes with Sex difference :
Women generally have more responsive and sensitive immune systems when compared to men. Additionally, women naturally have stronger inflammatory responses when their immune systems are disrupted.
Pregnancy and Sex Hormones :
Another possible theory as to why women are at a higher risk for autoimmune disease is because of the hormonal differences. Throughout their reproductive years, women experience significant hormonal events like puberty to pregnancy to menopause. All of these Events can amplify immune system responses to levels that, along with other environmental factors, can lead to the development of the autoimmune disorder. One study has also shown that the female hormone estrogen can contribute to the development of autoimmunity in women.
Another report in 2020 says that the physiological changes that occur with pregnancy such as changes in metabolic rates, lipid level, and weight gain can also cause autoimmune responses.
Genetic Predisposition :
Generally, women are less susceptible to infectious diseases than men but are more prone to autoimmune diseases. This higher prevalence is attributed to the X-chromosome. Some researchers opine that because women have two X- chromosomes, they are genetically predisposed to developing autoimmune diseases. Researchers suspect that a defect in the X-chromosome could be the reason for autoimmunity in females.
Environmental triggers :
Most researchers believe that exposure to different types of external toxins, including pollutants and certain medications might trigger autoimmunity. Some studies have found a female gender bias for some exposures like the connection between cosmetics and the increased risk for Lupus erythematosus or Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although research is limited, studies are continued to look at products women use in greater frequency such as hair dyes, makeup products to determine their risk associated with autoimmunity in women.
Stress management is different in men and women. As per the American Psychological Association, women are found to be more stressed when compared to men. Women process stressors differently and their bodies respond differently when they encounter stressful situations. In a study, women with chronic stress have exhibited more inflammatory responsesthan men, which can eventually lead to autoimmune diseases.
Although autoimmune disease is a chronic health condition, it can be managed and treated well when you get the right medical treatment and you exercise a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy, exercising every day, getting good sleep, and keeping yourself calm in any situation is what makes the difference. At Autoimmune Health & Nutrition we believe in the concept of holistic healing, which means feeding the mind, body & soul with good food and nutrition.
Our Autoimmune disease supplements are clean &healthy which are aimed at providing optimal nutrition for people on Autoimmune Protocol or paleo diet. Our Paleo Perfection protein powder is made from grass-fed adhering meat and bone collagen and also includes a significant amount of an organic superfood blend. It is non-GMO, soy-free, allergen-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and has had no sugar added. They are available in three delicious flavors. Choose your favorite flavor to get the nourishment for a healthy you.