Autoimmunity: Risk Factors and Triggers

Autoimmunity: Risk Factors and Triggers

May 08 , 2021

Autoimmune disease is a broad term used to describe over 100 disorders in which the immune system attacks its own tissues and cells, including inflammatory bowel diseases (mainly Crohn’s disease), systemic lupus erythematosus, primary biliary cirrhosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and celiac disease. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), autoimmune diseases affect over 23 million Americans and are often difficult to identify and diagnose. Because of this, it’s helpful to know the triggers and risk factors that play a role in the causes of autoimmune disease.

Though studies are being conducted to help narrow down the exact causes of autoimmune diseases, scientists can speculate that a combination of genetics, environment, lifestyle choices, or past medical history play a role.

Some specifics of risk factors and triggers include:

Processed Foods
Expansion of industrial food processing and food additive consumption throughout westernized societies coincides with the increase in the incidence of autoimmune diseases. Glucose, salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, gluten, mTG, and nanoparticles are extensively and increasingly used by these industries to improve the quality of the food (as claimed by manufacturers and some consumers). The additives in processed foods – used to improve the taste, texture, smell and shelf life – affect the intestines and development of autoimmune diseases. This intestinal entry of foreign antigens activates the autoimmune cascade.

Infections occur when the body is exposed to a foreign living substance (i.e., viruses, bacteria, or parasites), and these can act as autoimmune triggers. Viral and bacterial infections impact the autoimmune response by something called molecular mimicry. Molecular mimicry occurs when a foreign substance, shaped very similar to a naturally occurring substance in the body, blends into the body like camouflage. Parasitic infections can cause inflammation which is believed to impact the autoimmune response.

Environmental Exposures
Silicone implants have been associated with scleroderma which is often accompanied by severe pain and chronic fatigue. Lupus antibodies have been detected in patients with silicone implants, and once the implants were removed, the antibodies disappeared.

Hydrazines are in tobacco and are used commercially in making anti-corrosives, plastics, herbicides, preservatives, rubber products, photographic supplies, textiles, dyes, and in some studies, have been associated with drug-induced lupus.

Genetics and hormones can interact to create autoimmune processes, such as estrogen. Estrogen’s link to certain diseases is not fully researched and understood, but it is known that females, who have more estrogen in their bodies, do experience more autoimmune diseases than men.

Because of the range of risk factors, it’s important for the population of 60 million Americans suffering from or at risk of an autoimmune disease to know what triggers or symptoms play a role in its creation. However, even with this knowledge, autoimmune diseases are still difficult to diagnose due to their complex nature. To accurately screen for them, consider the Aurora Life Sciences autoimmune panel. Learn more about this innovative and cost-effective diagnostic tool or purchase your own test kit today by visiting our website, calling 815-713-1829, or emailing