Saturday, August 8, 2009

More Recommended Reading

I read Donna Jackson Nakazawa's book titled The Autoimmune Epidemic. She presents theory regarding correlation between increased toxins in our daily environments and increasing rates of autoimmune disease. The "barrel effect" is used to illustrate what happens in the body to set up a disease onset. Imagine a barrel filling with water: genetic predisposition fills it to a certain degree, estrogen fluctuations fill it even more, and toxins (referred to as autogens) fill it even further, to the point where the water is just holding at the very top. Then, an otherwise inconsequential trigger (often a common virus that confuses the immune system) provides the final drop that causes the barrel to dramatically overflow. There is also discussion of current lines of research, as well some tips to minimize the introduction of autogens into the body. The statistics presented were interesting: more people will battle an autoimmune disease than cancer and heart disease, yet autoimmune disease research receives a tiny fraction of available resources. Rates of autoimmune disease have spiked in recent years, and not due to better diagnostics. According to Nakazawa, we are poisoning ourselves with our modern environment, but we have yet to make the connection and work towards remedy.

The book is interesting. Some of the discussion regarding disease clusters and molecular dynamics was tedious, but the general explanation of mechanisms involved in autoimmune disease were well-presented. It seems as though we are still a long way off from making any inroads regarding predictors, preventions, or remedies. My onset of polymyositis has reinforced the worry that those of us who already experience one or more autoimmune issues are more likely to experience additional diseases. While living in fear is not the answer, I am acutely aware of my status as a ticking time-bomb. Visit for help understanding autoimmune disease, as well as how current issues like health-care and research legislation affect us. There are also tips on how to contact your legislative representatives for advocacy.

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