Friday, September 2, 2011

Why Do More Women Than Men Get Autoimmune Diseases?

Interesting question, isn't it?

OK, I stole this question from another article, but believe me, the question has crossed my mind many times, as well as anyone else's who's been to any autoimmune support group.

9 out of 10 lupus patients are women. attempts to throw some theories out there in this article as to why more women than men are suffering from these diseases. (Just to be clear, I don't want more men to get these diseases...) :

Theory 1: Estrogen vs. testosterone. Estrogen boosts immune response to infection. Testosterone suppresses it.

Theory 2: Genetics. Women have 2 X chromosomes; Men 1X, 1 Y. That 2nd X has something to do with immunity.

Theory 3: microchimerism, the presence of someone else's cells in your body.This happens during pregancy and birth.

IMO, only the first theory makes any sense.

The second theory is too vague, and just another stab-in-the-dark, blame-everything-on-genetics-without-any-actual-proof statement.

The third theory is based on the assumption that all women are or will become pregnant. a great many women with autoimmune disease have never been (and may never be) pregnant. And what about those who get the disease before getting pregnant? And what about the 10% of lupus patients who are guys who are extremely unlikely to have ever been pregnant? Doesn't hold up. I hope no one is pouring money into researching this theory.

Which theory would I would follow down a rabbit hole with my resaerch dollars? Theory 1, based on the difference in hormone levels. It meshes with the patient demographics- most women develop these diseases in the years their estrogen is highest, age 20-40.

And, since we're looking for things girls have that guys don't here are some other theories about the causes of autoimmune disease:

1) slumber parties
2) pillow fights
3) bras
4) lacy underwear
5) lipstick
6) barbie dolls
7) gossip

Who wants to fund my research on whether gossip causes lupus? Rumor has it, it does...

Carla Ulbrich, The Singing Patient
_____________ - health coaching - funny songs