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Common Myths About Autoimmune Conditions

Common Myths About Autoimmune Conditions

Common Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Correcting Misconceptions

There are many common myths about autoimmune conditions which we will dispel here. Autoimmune conditions are a group of disorders where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body, leading to inflammation and damage. These conditions can range from mild to severe and can impact different parts of the body, such as joints, skin, or organs.

Autoimmune conditions are one of the most misunderstood and mysterious health issues that affect millions of people worldwide. Despite being a common health concern, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding autoimmune conditions that can lead to confusion and misinformation. 

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Autoimmune Conditions Are Rare

Many people believe that autoimmune conditions are rare and only affect a small percentage of the population. However, this is far from the truth. In fact, autoimmune conditions are considered to be one of the top 10 leading causes of death in women below the age of 65. It is estimated that around 50 million Americans are living with an autoimmune condition, making it more prevalent than heart disease combined.1 2

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Autoimmune Conditions Are Entirely Genetic

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about autoimmune conditions is that they are solely inherited from our parents. While genetics do play a role in the development of these conditions, it is not the only factor at play.

Research suggests that genetic factors may contribute to about 30% of autoimmune conditions, with the remaining 70% being attributed to environmental triggers and other factors such as diet and lifestyle choices.3 4

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Only Women Develop Autoimmune Conditions

While autoimmune conditions do tend to affect more women than men, they can occur in both genders.

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions - Only Women Develop Autoimmune Conditions

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Only Older People Develop Autoimmune Conditions

While it is true that autoimmune conditions are more commonly diagnosed in older individuals, they can occur at any age. In fact, some autoimmune conditions such as lupus are more common in children and young adults. It is important to recognize the symptoms of autoimmune conditions at any age.6

Read more about lupus.

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – All Autoimmune Conditions Are The Same

Autoimmune conditions are often grouped together under one umbrella term, but the truth is that there are over 80 different types of autoimmune conditions, each with its own set of symptoms and treatments. While there may be some similarities between certain conditions, it is important to understand that each one is unique and requires individualized care.7

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Autoimmune Conditions Are Contagious

Autoimmune conditions are not contagious. They cannot be spread from person to person through casual contact, such as touching or sharing utensils. These conditions occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. This is a result of genetic predisposition and environmental triggers, not a virus or bacteria that can be passed from one person to another.8

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Stress Does Not Play A Role In Autoimmune Conditions

Stress is often viewed as a contributor to various health issues, including autoimmune conditions. However, there are many who believe that stress has no impact on the development or progression of these conditions. The truth is, while stress may not directly cause an autoimmune condition, it can trigger flare-ups and worsen symptoms. Managing stress through relaxation techniques and therapy can be beneficial in managing autoimmune conditions.9

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Diet Has No Effect On Autoimmune Conditions

There is a common misconception that diet has no impact on the development or management of autoimmune conditions. However, research has shown that certain foods can trigger inflammation in the body, leading to flare-ups of autoimmune symptoms. Additionally, some individuals may have food sensitivities or allergies that can worsen their condition.10

Read more about the connection between diet and autoimmune conditions.

The modern diet has seen a significant increase in the consumption of processed foods, which are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, salt, and chemical additives. These foods have become a staple in many people’s diets due to their convenience and affordability. However, research shows that these foods may not be as harmless as they seem, especially when it comes to autoimmune conditions.

Processed foods may contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions in several ways. First, these foods often lack essential nutrients and antioxidants that are crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system. Additionally, many processed foods contain gluten, which has been linked to an increased risk of autoimmune conditions such as celiac disease.11

Furthermore, the chemicals and preservatives used in processed foods have been shown to disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut, known as the microbiome. This can lead to a condition called dysbiosis, which has been linked to autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.12

On top of that, processed foods are often high in pro-inflammatory substances such as omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats. These can promote inflammation in the body and contribute to the development of autoimmune conditions.13

Read more about eating a healthy diet.

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions - Diet Has No Effect On Autoimmune Conditions

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – There Is No Way To Prevent Autoimmune Conditions

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent autoimmune conditions, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing them. These include maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress levels, and avoiding known environmental triggers.

Read more about what causes autoimmune disorders.

Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Environmental Factors Have Very Little Effect On Autoimmune Conditions

Environmental triggers can vary widely and may include exposure to toxins, stress, infections, or certain medications. For example, exposure to cigarette smoke has been linked to an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA), while the Epstein-Barr virus has been associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). Additionally, some medications, such as antibiotics or anti-seizure drugs, have been known to trigger autoimmune reactions in certain individuals.14

Autoimmune Conditions And Heavy Metals

Exposure to heavy metals can have harmful effects on human health. Chronic exposure to heavy metals has been linked to various autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.

Read more about the connection between heavy metals and autoimmune conditions.

Heavy metals can interfere with the normal functioning of the immune system, leading to an overactive or underactive response. They can also trigger inflammation and oxidative stress, which are key factors in autoimmune diseases.15

One of the ways heavy metals can enter the body is through ingestion, either through contaminated food or water. They can also be inhaled from dust or fumes in industrial settings. Occupational exposure to heavy metals is a major concern for workers in industries such as mining, battery manufacturing, and metalworking.

Preventing exposure to heavy metals is crucial in reducing the risk of developing autoimmune conditions. This can be achieved through proper waste disposal, using protective gear in industrial settings, and avoiding the use of products containing heavy metals such as lead-based paints.

In addition to preventing exposure, it is important to identify and remove heavy metals from the body. This can be done through chelation therapy, a process that involves administering medications to bind with heavy metal ions and facilitate their elimination from the body.16

Read more about removing heavy metals from the body.

Autoimmune Conditions And Mold

Exposure to toxic molds, which release harmful substances known as mycotoxins, can trigger an immune response in certain individuals, leading to a variety of symptoms and potentially serious health issues.

Symptoms of mold-related illness can include respiratory problems, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, and skin rashes. Treatment for mold-related illness typically involves a combination of approaches. This can include avoiding further exposure to mold, taking medications to alleviate symptoms, and following a healthy diet and lifestyle. In some cases, additional treatments such as detoxification therapies and immune system support may also be recommended.17 18

It is important to note that not everyone who is exposed to toxic molds will develop mold-related illness. The severity of symptoms and the risk of developing complications may depend on factors such as the type and amount of mold exposure, individual health status, and genetic susceptibility.

To prevent mold-related illness, it is essential to address any water damage or moisture issues in your home or workplace promptly. This can help prevent the growth of toxic molds and reduce your risk of exposure.19

Read more about the connection between autoimmune conditions and mold.

Autoimmune Conditions And Mold

Autoimmune Conditions And Endocrine Disrupting Compounds (EDCs)

Recent research has shown that exposure to certain chemicals known as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) may play a role in the development and progression of autoimmune conditions. EDCs are synthetic or naturally occurring compounds that can interfere with the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating hormones in the body.

One way EDCs contribute to autoimmune conditions is by disrupting the balance of hormones, specifically estrogen and testosterone. These hormones play key roles in the immune system, and any disruption can lead to an overactive or weakened immune response. EDCs have also been found to directly target immune cells, altering their function and increasing inflammation.

Furthermore, EDCs have been linked to dysregulation of the gut microbiome, which plays a crucial role in immune system balance. Exposure to these compounds may disrupt the diversity and balance of gut bacteria, which in turn can affect the regulation of immune responses.

In addition to their potential role in autoimmune conditions, EDCs have also been linked to other chronic health issues such as reproductive disorders, and obesity. This highlights the importance of understanding and reducing exposure to these compounds.20 21

Read more about EDCs and obesity.

Common Myths About Autoimmune Conditions – Correcting Misconceptions

Now that we have put these common myths about autoimmune conditions to rest, learn more about the symptoms of autoimmune disease.


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2 Walsh SJ, Rau LM. Autoimmune diseases: a leading cause of death among young and middle-aged women in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2000 Sep;90(9):1463-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.90.9.1463. PMID: 10983209; PMCID: PMC1447637.

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6 Watad A, Bragazzi NL, Adawi M, Amital H, Toubi E, Porat BS, Shoenfeld Y. Autoimmunity in the Elderly: Insights from Basic Science and Clinics – A Mini-Review. Gerontology. 2017;63(6):515-523. doi: 10.1159/000478012. Epub 2017 Jul 29. PMID: 28768257.

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8 Smatti MK, Cyprian FS, Nasrallah GK, Al Thani AA, Almishal RO, Yassine HM. Viruses and Autoimmunity: A Review on the Potential Interaction and Molecular Mechanisms. Viruses. 2019 Aug 19;11(8):762. doi: 10.3390/v11080762. PMID: 31430946; PMCID: PMC6723519.

9 Stojanovich L, Marisavljevich D. Stress as a trigger of autoimmune disease. Autoimmun Rev. 2008 Jan;7(3):209-13. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2007.11.007. Epub 2007 Nov 29. PMID: 18190880.

10 Mazzucca CB, Raineri D, Cappellano G, Chiocchetti A. How to Tackle the Relationship between Autoimmune Diseases and Diet: Well Begun Is Half-Done. Nutrients. 2021 Nov 5;13(11):3956. doi: 10.3390/nu13113956. PMID: 34836210; PMCID: PMC8620243.

11 Gioia C, Lucchino B, Tarsitano MG, Iannuccelli C, Di Franco M. Dietary Habits and Nutrition in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Can Diet Influence Disease Development and Clinical Manifestations? Nutrients. 2020 May 18;12(5):1456. doi: 10.3390/nu12051456. PMID: 32443535; PMCID: PMC7284442.

12 Mousa WK, Chehadeh F, Husband S. Microbial dysbiosis in the gut drives systemic autoimmune diseases. Front Immunol. 2022 Oct 20;13:906258. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.906258. PMID: 36341463; PMCID: PMC9632986.

13 Simopoulos AP. The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2008 Jun;233(6):674-88. doi: 10.3181/0711-MR-311. Epub 2008 Apr 11. PMID: 18408140.

14 Kharrazian D. Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Autoimmune Conditions. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2021 Apr;20(2):20-24. PMID: 34377090; PMCID: PMC8325494.

15 Rowley, B., & Monestier, M. (2005). Mechanisms of heavy metal-induced autoimmunity. Molecular immunology, 42(7), 833–838.

16 Zalups RK, Bridges CC. Relationships between the renal handling of DMPS and DMSA and the renal handling of mercury. Chem Res Toxicol. 2012 Sep 17;25(9):1825-38. doi: 10.1021/tx3001847. Epub 2012 Jun 15. PMID: 22667351; PMCID: PMC4640686.

17 Mold allergy – Symptoms and causes. (2021, June 21). Mayo Clinic.

18 Rea WJ, Didriksen N, Simon TR, Pan Y, Fenyves EJ, Griffiths B. Effects of toxic exposure to molds and mycotoxins in building-related illnesses. Arch Environ Health. 2003 Jul;58(7):399-405. doi: 10.1080/00039896.2003.11879140. PMID: 15143852.

19 Roussel S, Reboux G, Bellanger AP, Sornin S, Grenouillet F, Dalphin JC, Piarroux R, Millon L. Characteristics of dwellings contaminated by moulds. J Environ Monit. 2008 Jun;10(6):724-9. doi: 10.1039/b718909e. Epub 2008 Apr 29. PMID: 18528539.

20 Huang RG, Li XB, Wang YY, Wu H, Li KD, Jin X, Du YJ, Wang H, Qian FY, Li BZ. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and autoimmune diseases. Environ Res. 2023 Aug 15;231(Pt 2):116222. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.116222. Epub 2023 May 22. PMID: 37224951.

21 Kahn LG, Philippat C, Nakayama SF, Slama R, Trasande L. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: implications for human health. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2020 Aug;8(8):703-718. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30129-7. PMID: 32707118; PMCID: PMC7437820.

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