Family or Personal History of Autoimmune Disease
Many, if not most autoimmune diseases, have a genetic or hereditary basis. This means that if you have a family member with an autoimmune disease, you are at an increased risk of developing an autoimmune condition as well. And it does not have to be the same disease - one relative may have autoimmune thyroid disease, another multiple sclerosis, and another inflammatory bowel disease.
Gender or Hormonal Status
Seventy-five percent of autoimmune diseases occur in women, and most frequently during the childbearing years. Higher estrogen levels seem to stimulate the immune system, which may explain why men are less affected.
Bacterial and Viral Infections and Illnesses
Viruses, bacteria and mycoplasma, a type of small-cell bacteria, are implicated in autoimmune diseases. Often a bout of illness with a virus such as the Epstein- Barr virus triggers the onset of an autoimmune disease.
Toxic Metal Exposure
An estimated twenty-five percent of us have some form of heavy metal poisoning. Studies have shown that exposure to toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic, aluminum, nickel and other heavy metals can be linked to the autoimmune process: The heavy metals induce autoantibodies, which then create autoimmune diseases.
Toxic Chemical Exposure
Toxins such as pesticides, solvents, industrial chemicals, even household cleaners and hair dyes are being implicated in autoimmune diseases. These toxins are are everywhere, and they greatly increase the risk of all diseases in general.
Scientists have found a connection between some autoimmune diseases and vaccinations. In the February 2000 issue of Autoimmunity, ten research articles evaluate the causal link between vaccinations and autoimmune disease. For instance, the controversial anthrax vaccine has been causally linked to the development of autoimmune diseases.
Stress and Trauma
Many people have noticed a direct link between a major stressful life event and the development of an autoimmune disease six to twelve months later. Unmanaged stress is a risk factor for the developemnt of all major diseases, including heart disease and cancer. I myself noticed that I always got much worse symptom-wise during any stressful situations.
Our thoughts and feelings have a direct impact on our immune system. Loneliness is now recognized as the number one predictor of disease due to its immune suppressing action. Laughter and feelings of happiness, on the other hand, increase and enhance the actions of our immune cells.
Smoking increases the risk of several autoimmune diseases, primarily because of the chemicals in cigarettes.
Poor diet is an important factor in autoimmunity because poor nutrition compromises the immune system. Processed foods are loaded with chemicals, hormones, steroids, trans-fats and sugars, which promote the creation of free radicals in the body, which in turn damage the cells.