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Doctor: Women at higher risk for autoimmune diseases

Category: Autoimmune Diseases

Women likely have a significantly higher risk of contracting an autoimmune disease than men, according to an expert in the field.

Dr Vivian Pinn, director of the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women's Health recently interviewed Dr Robert Carter to discuss diagnoses and developments in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, as they apply to women. Carter is the deputy director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

According to the researchers, autoimmune diseases result in an immune system which improperly begins to attack healthy cells in the body. These types of diseases, many of which can be diagnosed by blood tests, are able to upset nearly every organ system and often last an entire lifetime.

"Looking at sex and gender differences has provided researchers with many clues," Carter commented. "The presence of female hormones as well as the fact that women have two X chromosomes may play a part in contributing to the development of an autoimmune disease."

Autoimmune diseases more common in women include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and thyroid disease.

Dr James Norman of endochrineweb.com reports that administering at least two thyroid tests "can usually detect even the slightest abnormality of thyroid function." He warns that those with a history of thyroid disease in their families should be particularly responsive to associated symptoms.
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