Common Cause of Autoimmune Diseases
”Only recently have we begun thinking of autoimmune diseases as a consortium, a related group of conditions that have many features in common,” said Noel R. Rose, a professor at Johns Hopkins and head of the American Autoimmune Disease Association. ”By focusing on these common elements, we’ve advanced our understanding.” NY Times, June 9, 2001
The evidence supporting an Autoimmune Disease “Common Cause” Hypothesis is extensive. The “Common Cause” Hypothesis predicts that many devastating autoimmune diseases have a single cause. The evidence in favor of the Hypothesis is extensive and compelling, including:
It has been known for years that patients with an autoimmune disease are more likely to have a relative with an autoimmune disease, but not necessarily the same disease.
Approximately 15% of all autoimmune patients have two autoimmune diseases and the
typical family with one affected adult will have greater than 40% chance of another
adult member having an autoimmune affliction.
Large genetic studies repeatedly find that autoimmune diseases can be linked to the same region of a chromosome as genes involved in training the immune system to identify “self” tissue.
It is common for one identical human twin to have an autoimmune disease and 60 – 70% of the time for their sibling not to have this condition – in fact there are many documented cases in which twins express two different autoimmune diseases!
Doctors have become aware that those who suffer from one autoimmune disease are at increased risk of contracting another. Moreover, researchers have seen that a generalized predisposition toward autoimmunity may run in families, with one person suffering from, say, lupus, another from rheumatoid arthritis, a third from Graves’ disease. nowing this kinship pattern may help a doctor more quickly diagnose an autoimmune condition.
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