Autoimmune Disease: Why Women are Affected Way More than Men
Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Unfortunately, medical science has yet to determine why this happens—but the science is clear that women face the condition far more often than men.
What is an Autoimmune Disease?
The immune system’s purpose is to protect the body from foreign invaders—which includes bacteria, viruses, and other germs. In cases of autoimmune disease, the body mistakenly identifies healthy cells as invaders and attacks them. This leads to inflammation and potential damage to the organs.
Autoimmune conditions can affect any organ, tissue, or cell and have a range of issues, from skin, digestive, and kidney conditions to systemic diseases like lupus.
Why do Women Get Autoimmune Disease Much More than Men?
No one knows why women are much more likely to get autoimmune diseases, but the scientific consensus points to several factors:
- Hormone differences: The influx of hormones during a woman’s menstrual cycle has long been theorized to affect the immune system.
- Genetics: Some autoimmune diseases appear to be hereditary, and so women whose family members have been affected may be greater risks.
- Environmental factors: Gender inequality means women tend to be exposed to more environmental toxins than men.
- Certain lifestyle choices: Women may be more likely to make choices that increase their risk, such as smoking, unhealthy eating habits, drinking, and stress.
It’s clear that there are multiple reasons why women are more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases than men. Even though there remains an unsolved mystery, doctors and researchers are working hard to find answers. We should continue to be aware of the potential risk and take measures to protect ourselves.