There’s been increasing concern voiced by world-leading immunologists that we could soon witness a devastating super-epidemic of autoimmune diseases. Some think it’s our exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that’s the major concern. While others are more worried about the novel, still experimental vaccines, delivered at an unprecedented scale. But could it be both? In this piece, we aim to get under the covers of this complex area that’s been getting very little airtime in the mainstream media.
Autoimmune diseases represent a diverse group of over 100 diseases including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, psoriasis, coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Addison’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pancreatitis, Graves disease, Hashimoto’s, fibromyalgia, and many other common diseases.
The underlying mechanism that links all these diseases is the loss of self-tolerance. As a result, the body starts to attack healthy cells or parts of itself, leading to the characteristic symptoms of one of the myriad autoimmune diseases.
The suggestion that we might face a super-epidemic isn’t a wild hypothesis. It’s a carefully considered judgment based on the fact we’re already amidst an autoimmune epidemic in the Western industrialized world. Anyone with any doubts about this should read science journalist and autoimmune sufferer Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s 2009 book on the subject, The Autoimmune Epidemic. That’s as relevant today as it was over a decade ago.
There’s a widely held view in immunological circles that a major driver of this epidemic is the decline of common infectious diseases such as hepatitis A, measles, mumps and rheumatic fever. That combined with the excessively hygienic environment that many children have grown up in in industrialized countries during the course of the last half century or so.
Many immunologists, clinicians and health scientists were first made aware of this relationship back in 2002, when leading French immunologist, Professor Jean-François Bach proposed the role of the hygiene hypothesis as the driver of the epidemic in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The inverse relationship was neatly demonstrated in two graphs.
Source: Bach J-S. The effect of infections on susceptibility to autoimmune and allergic diseases. N Engl J Med 2002; » Lees verder