Family or Personal History of Autoimmune Disease
Many, if not most autoimmune diseases, have a genetic or hereditary basis. This means that if you have a family member with an autoimmune disease, you are at an increased risk of developing an autoimmune condition as well. And it does not have to be the same disease - one relative may have autoimmune thyroid disease, another multiple sclerosis, and another inflammatory bowel disease.
Gender or Hormonal Status
Seventy-five percent of autoimmune diseases occur in women, and most frequently during the childbearing years. Higher estrogen levels seem to stimulate the immune system, which may explain why men are less affected.
Bacterial and Viral Infections and Illnesses
Viruses, bacteria and mycoplasma, a type of small-cell bacteria, are implicated in autoimmune diseases. Often a bout of illness with a virus such as the Epstein- Barr virus triggers the onset of an autoimmune disease.
Toxic Metal Exposure
An estimated twenty-five percent of us have some form of heavy metal poisoning. Studies have shown that exposure to toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, aluminum, nickel and other heavy metals can be linked to the autoimmune process: The heavy metals induce autoantibodies, which then create autoimmune diseases.
Toxic Chemical Exposure
Toxins such as pesticides, solvents, industrial chemicals, even household cleaners and hair dyes are being implicated in autoimmune diseases. These toxins are are everywhere, and they greatly increase the risk of all diseases in general.
Scientists have found a connection between some autoimmune diseases and vaccinations. In the February 2000 issue of Autoimmunity, ten research articles evaluate the causal link between vaccinations and autoimmune disease. For instance, the controversial anthrax vaccine has been causally linked to the development of autoimmune diseases.
Stress and Trauma
Many people have noticed a direct link between a major stressful life event and the development of an autoimmune disease six to twelve months later. Unmanaged stress is a risk factor for the developemnt of all major diseases, including heart disease and cancer. I myself noticed that I always got much worse symptom-wise during any stressful situations.
Our thoughts and feelings have a direct impact on our immune system. Loneliness is now recognized as the number one predictor of disease due to its immune suppressing action. Laughter and feelings of happiness, on the other hand, increase and enhance the actions of our immune cells.
Smoking increases the risk of several autoimmune diseases, primarily because of the chemicals in cigarettes.
Poor diet is an important factor in autoimmunity because poor nutrition compromises the immune system. Processed foods are loaded with chemicals, hormones, steroids, trans-fats and sugars, which promote the creation of free radicals in the body, which in turn damage the cells. Dr. Edelson's Theory on What are the Causes of Autoimmune Disease
According to Dr. Stephen B. Edelson, one of the top autoimmune disease specialists in the United States, autoimmune diseases are caused primarily by a combination of genetics and environmental toxins. Heredity predisposes you to developing an autoimmune disorder, and environmental toxins trigger the conditions into being. So for instance some people who are genetically predisposed to autoimmune disorders do not develop autoimmune conditions, and not everyone who is exposed to environmental toxins develops these conditions either. But the COMBINATION of heredity and environmental toxins, as well as a stressful life event may be all that is needed.
Dr. Nissen's Theory on Autoimmune Disease Causes
Dr. Thomas Nissen is a specialist in Environmental Medicine, and his theory on all diseases is this:
We all have hereditary tendencies towards certain diseases. If a person is exposed to environmental toxins over long periods of time, this creates an enormous amount of free radicals in the body. These free radicals then alter the body's pH (which must be kept constant). An altered pH allows viruses, bacteria, candida and other pathogens to thrive, which then sets the stage for more free radicals. The free radicals damage the cells, making it impossible for the cells to communicate with each other. Autoimmunity results when the immune system attacks the damaged cells.
Professor Patrick Bouic's Theory on Causes of Autoimmune Disorders
Professor Patrick Bouic is a scientist at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa. He has conducted several double-blind, placebo controlled studies on autoimmunity:
We are born with immune cells that ward off offenders such as fungi, bacteria and parasites. Our immune cells are comprised of Th-1 and Th-2 cells. When our Th-1 cells are suppressed and not releasing immune factors, we get sick with cancer, colds, flus and other infectious diseases. When our Th-2 cells are overactive and secreting too many inflammatory immune factors, we have allergies, autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. The key to healthy immunity is to regulate both sides of the T-cell function.
The solution to beating autoimmune diseases lies in addressing the root causes of autoimmunity, and in regulating the immune system. Ideally this can happen without the side effects associated with pharmaceutical substances such as interferon, prednisone or methotrexate.
In a large number of cases, the cause of autoimmune diseases can be traced to the overload of toxicity the body has had to deal with over many years, particularly heavy metals. We suggest you consider having a hair tissue mineral analysis done to find out which heavy metals the body is high in and which essential minerals the body is deficient in. This test can provide you with much-needed information about mineral ratios that can be toxic and causing imbalances in your body, especially if you're suffering from symptoms of autoimmune disease.