32 Million Americans, Found to Have Autoimmune Antibodies

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According to an investigation conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a subsidiary institute of the National Institutes of Health, about 32 million individuals in the US have auto-antibodies. The most prevalent of which are the ANA or the anti-nuclear antibodies.
This study is the first of its kind to be carried out and also it is a maiden study, the results are staggering, says the American Autoimmune and Related Diseases Association. According to Virginia Ladd, President and Executive Director of the latter, “This study does not surprise us at AARDA as we have known that the number of autoimmune diseases have been increasing significantly within the past decade. What we don’t know is why.”

Furthermore, Director of NIEHS said that, “Some of this may be due environmental influences. We need to continue the research momentum that we have been building over the last few years to better understand how autoimmune diseases develop so we can better predict and eventually prevent the development of some autoimmune diseases.”

Noel Rose, Director of the Center for Autoimmune Disease Research at the Johns Hopkins University clarified that not all people who test positive for ANA will develop autoimmune disorders. On the brighter side of this study, it will pave the way for further researches as to why some people with positive ANA develop autoimmune disorders while others do not. He also mentioned that, “This landmark study focuses our attention on the critical question of how often a person with ANA goes on to actual clinical disease. That question must be addressed in this oncoming age of personalized, predictive and preventive medicine.”

According to US statistics, “around 50 million individuals (20% or 1 in 5 people) suffer from autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease is more prevalent in women, with some estimates stating that 75% (37.5 million) of individuals with an autoimmune disease are women. Although, autoimmune is rarely discussed as an issue of women’s health.”

Ladd further stated that, “Autoimmune diseases are a significant factor in the cost of health care in the U.S. However, there is no study that provides detailed data on the true cost of autoimmune diseases in this country. Diseases are generally tracked separately by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), rather than by category of disease. However, AHRQ does not have tracking codes for all of the 100+ autoimmune diseases, without which it is nearly impossible to find the cost and true impact of these diseases. Not only do we not know the cost, but additionally, we don’t have studies on the epidemiology of individual autoimmune diseases.”




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