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What Women Should Know About Autoimmune Diseases

Women have become increasingly aware of autoimmune diseases, largely because news reports suggest a possible, but unproven link with the use of silicone gel breast implants. Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, and others tend to develop when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissue. All women should be knowledgeable about these disorders, which affect more women than men. 


The exact cause of these immune system disorders, also known as connective tissue diseases, is unknown, but researchers are focusing on genetic factors. Estrogen, which has been shown to affect the immune system may explain why women are more prone to the diseases that develop in the childbearing years. Viral infections, medications, and toxic substances are also suspected trigger factors for autoimmune diseases. The diseases are especially complicated because all women, particularly during pregnancy can experience symptoms of autoimmune disorders, without developing the disease. Affected Women tend to experience changes in their menstrual cycles, during pregnancy, and also with the use of oral contraceptives.


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