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Why More Research Must Be Done On Autoimmune Diseases

2872 words - 11 pages

Cancer affects up to 9 million Americans, heart disease affects up to 22 million, and about 23.5 million Americans are affected by autoimmune disease (Living with Type 1 Diabetes, 2013). While all three of these illnesses contribute as the leading causes of death in the nation, cancer and heart disease have facilitated more research and recognition as significant “diseases” than autoimmunity has. Autoimmune diseases range in nearly 80 different disorders and specialists are yet to find treatment, let alone clear causes, for it. In our human body, we have the immune system, which uses innate and adaptive body defenses that fight off infections to maintain the body’s healthy living each day. Autoimmune diseases exist to do the exact opposite. This happens because the immune system mistakenly attacks itself and destroys healthy cells and tissues that are necessary for everyday healthy living. Autoimmune illnesses run in families, which makes a person’s genetic make up a pool to receive any of the 80 different types of disorders. Surprisingly enough, causes for this crucial disease is still something scientists are not completely aware of. While autoimmune diseases are not yet curable, patients can only be slightly treated by being on life-long medication. Given the advanced technology our world swims in today, if more research is done on causes of autoimmunity, then more solutions to prevent them can be supposed today.
What is autoimmunity?
Autoimmune diseases are a household of over 80 chronic, debilitating, and life-threatening disorders. They are among the 10 leading causes of death and disability in America (Dugdale, 2014). The immune system’s fundamental role is to tell the difference between self and nonself: what’s you and what’s foreign. An underlying defect in the immune system causes the body to make autoantibodies that attack its own organs and tissues (Goldmuntz & Penn, 2012). While some diseases are extremely rare, autoimmune diseases collectively affect 14.7 to 23.5 million people in this country today (Notkins & Lernmark, 2014). The reasons why these diseases are happening are still unknown, yet its prevalence is rising. Type I diabetes is a type of autoimmune disease that permanently destroys beta cells in the pancreas, cells in which helps insulin to be produced. Insulin is a protein that helps glucose enter target cells from the bloodstream. If insulin is not being made then glucose accumulates in the blood and this then raises problems of high blood sugar in human bodies.
Who does it affect?
Autoimmunity is categorized as a leading cause of disability because of its ability to affect anyone at any age. However, some people are at greater risk than others. A person is easily put at a higher risk if an autoimmune disease runs in the family. Inheriting certain genes can make a body much more prone to catching autoimmunity. Other people at risk include living in harmful environments of too much sunlight exposure, or people of...

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