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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 07:38 AM
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The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World out of Balance
The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World out of Balance

By Donna Jackson Nakazawa, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster. Posted March 19, 2008.

Scientists worldwide puzzle over an alarming and unexplained rise in the rates of autoimmune disease. Yet the media remain mute on this crisis.

Excerpted from The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire in a World Out of Balance--and the Cutting-Edge Science that Promises Hope (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster).

Reprinted with permission. An interview with the author follows.

Most of us, at some juncture in our lives, have played out in our minds how devastating it would be to have our doctor hand down a cancer diagnosis or to warn us that we are at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Magazine articles, television dramas, and news headlines all bring such images home.

But consider an equally devastating health crisis scenario, one that you rarely hear spoken about openly, one that receives almost no media attention.

Imagine the slow, creeping escalation of seemingly amorphous symptoms: a tingling in the arms and fingers, the sudden appearance of a speckled rash across the face, the strange muscle weakness in the legs when climbing stairs, the fiery joints that emerge out of nowhere -- any and all of which can signal the onset of a wide range of life-altering and often debilitating autoimmune diseases.

Imagine, if you can: the tingling foot and ankle that turns out to be the beginning of the slow paralysis of multiple sclerosis. Four hundred thousand patients. Excruciating joint pain and inflammation, skin rashes, and never-ending flu-like symptoms that lead to the diagnosis of lupus. One and a half million more. Relentless bouts of vertigo -- the hallmark of Mnire's. Seven out of every one thousand Americans. Severe abdominal pain, bleeding rectal fissures, uncontrollable diarrhea, and chronic intestinal inflammation that define Crohn's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. More than 1 million Americans. More than 2 million patients. Dry mouth so persistent eight glasses of water a day won't soothe the parched throat and tongue and the mysterious swallowing difficulties that are the first signs of Sjgren's. Four million Americans. And, with almost every autoimmune disease, intolerable, life-altering bouts of exhaustion. If fatigue were a sound made manifest by the 23.5 million people with autoimmune disease in America, the roar across this country would be more deafening than that of the return of the seventeen-year locusts.

And yet, despite the prevalence of autoimmune disease, surveys show that more than 90 percent of people cannot summon the name of a single autoimmune disease when asked to name one specifically.

Think of it -- other than walkathons for multiple sclerosis, how many fundraising walks or lapel ribbons have you seen for autoimmune disease in general? Nearly 24 million Americans are suffering from an autoimmune illness, yet nine out of ten Americans cannot name a single one of these diseases. It boggles the mind.

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PDJane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 07:44 AM
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1. Add the symptoms of
fibromyalgia to the list, which has become almost an epidemic. Type two diabetes (I personally think that's a side effect of refined corn products, but thats personal). Celiac disease.

And no, one doesn't hear nearly enough about these things, until you get diagnosed with one or more.
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tavalon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #1
12. Thank you for mentioning Celiac disease
I went through a gamut of tests and suppositions before that was stumbled upon. The last six years, I have been a different woman.
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flashl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 08:14 AM
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2. And, lupus
"one of the seven more common autoimmune diseases: lupus .... All of these can lead to potentially fatal complications."

The primary medical treatment for lupus is steroids.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 08:25 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Many people with lupus can remain stable on NSAIDs
like Motrin, with steroids required only during flares. Others aren't quite as lucky and must be on a maintenance dose of steroids all the time.

There are now a whole host of drugs out there that can reduce the severity of the disease. What used to be a death sentence within 7 years, the diagnosis of lupus, is no more. Most people with lupus have a normal lifespan.

Of course, it does seem longer.
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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:00 AM
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4. There are problems with bees too

60 Minutes
1/24/08 What's Wrong With The Bees?

The bees belong to David Hackenberg and his family, who have been keeping them for almost half a century.

"I think, basically, I think the insecticides are breakin' down the immune system," Hackenberg theorizes.

He says most beekeepers believe the culprit is a relatively new type of pesticide called "neonicotinoids," a synthetic chemical based on nicotine. They are now used almost everywhere, from cornfields to golf courses, and on anything from the front lawn to the family pet. They are thought to be much safer for humans and animals than other pesticides, yet still toxic enough to kill insects.

"Well, basically, the chemical, the manufacturers of this product say it breaks down their immune system, causes memory loss, causes nervous system disorders. It causes the insects to quit feeding," Hackenberg says.


Perhaps what is happening to immune system in bees, is a clue to what is happening to immune system in humans?

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shireen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:31 AM
Response to Reply #4
9. i saw that segment, it was very sad and worrying, bees are cool. nt
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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. Bees are to the environment
like a canary in the coalmine

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OKthatsIT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-22-08 02:42 AM
Response to Reply #11
The Chemtrails are killing the bees...

Aerosol Spray = Aluminum, Potassium, Magnesium, Barium, Cadmium, Thorium, and polymers which transport biologicals, such as bacteria viruses and mycoplasmas.

Wonder why people are getting sicker and animals are dying off? Just LOOK UP!

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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:07 AM
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5. an interesting review

"Type 1 diabetes, Crohn's disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis all these increasingly common illnesses are autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues or nervous system. Equally alarming, as journalist Nakazawa tells us, is researchers' growing suspicion that autism may be an autoimmune disease, brought on in part by genetic predisposition, exposure of young bodies to man-made chemicals and perhaps viral triggers. Nakazawa (Does Anybody Else Look like Me?), who herself has been diagnosed with the autoimmune Guillain-Barr syndrome, tells of a lower-income Buffalo, N.Y., neighborhood where the growing number of relatively young residents with lupus led one persistent woman to discover that a lot where children played had been a dumping ground for industrial chemicals. She also chronicles the work of researchers at Johns Hopkins and other medical centers who have been able to regrow nerves using embryonic stem cells and destroy errant T cells of the immune system that have run amok. Included are suggestions for foods that may promote healthy immune response and consumer body care products to avoid. Everyone with a friend or family member with an autoimmune disease will find this a must read." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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LiberalEsto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:15 AM
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6. And allergies
It amazes me how many kids are being discovered to have severe allergies these days.

My older daughter, now 24, is extremely allergic to peanuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachio nuts and mangoes. If she gets exposed even slightly to one of these, and manages to head off an anaphylactic reaction with Benadryl, she develops a rash for weeks and becomes sensitive to other foods, such as eggplant and tomatoes, for months.

When we first found out she had allergies, she was in kindergarten, and such things were fairly uncommon. The school didn't have any policies or procedures for kids like her. By the time she graduated from high school, the schools seemed to be filled with allergic kids, and there were all sorts of policies, such as banning peanut treats at class parties, prohibiting kids from trading lunches, and so forth.

I think there's an allergy and asthma epidemic, and I think it has to do with all the new chemicals we're dumping into our bodies and our environment.
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shireen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:30 AM
Response to Original message
7. thank you for posting this
I am extremely sympathetic towards, and supportive of, people with cancer, heart disease, and the other diseases that get a lot of attention, and I support their fundraising and research efforts.

But as someone with an autoimmune disorder, I often feel quite invisible. My disorder isn't only rare and misunderstood, it's also a tongue-twister, antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS). On the outside, I look OK. But inside, I'm a mess. So I'm really glad to see that book excerpt, and especially happy to see one of my doctors, Michelle Petri, featured in it. (I sent the alternet link to her.)

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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
8. and probably at least a million more
whose symptoms and antibodies do not match up with known diseases. i am somewhere between lupus and sjogren and gawd knows what all, with a little ibs, just for fun. got that fatigue thing down pat, tho. sleep 10-12 hours a night. and wish i was sleeping the rest, for the most part.
i thought i would have plenty of time for a life of my own, once my kids were grown. the closer they got to grown, the worse i felt.
i should get this book. i am very curious. i was raised in a real industrial area. played in a river that spawn the country's first monkey wrencher. seems entirely plausible to me that this is the cause. my family history is full of active 90 year olds, and i am half dead at 53.
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shireen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 09:36 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. wow! I hear ya!
auto-immune disorders have a lot of overlapping symptoms. I think of it as a continuum spectrum, where some overlapping segments of that spectrum have "names" and others don't. Autoimmune disorders are very complex and confusing! Crazy stuff!

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DemExpat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 08:01 PM
Response to Reply #8
16. This is what gets me too, mopinko
Edited on Wed Mar-19-08 08:02 PM by DemExpat
My sister and 2 first cousins have lupus, sjogren, other weird health problems, 2 other cousins with debilitating allergies, a good girlfriend is dying from breast cancer, most of these family members and friends live in Houston, Texas and Denver.

I just returned from a family visit to these people in the US and was taken aback at all of the illness and heavy medications they were taking.

And our ancestry is also a very hardy one of many male and female 80 and 90's year olds!
What's up with all of this dis-ease and illness? I honestly can't see myself living to a ripe old age as many of them did before industrialization or modern high-tech medicine came about.

I have my share of vague but persistent health problems that probably would get diagnosed by some doctor(s) as some syndrome or another, but I treat or manage my health well enough by diet, rest, exercise, some supplements and herbs, and by staying away from additives, hormones, processed foods and medications as much as I can.

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fed-up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 10:14 AM
Response to Original message
13. and do't forget chronic fatigue syndrome.....k/r nt
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undergroundpanther Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 03:43 PM
Response to Original message
14. everything has been poisoned
we let companies run roughshod over the world, dumping toxic shit into our environment and foods and we let them do it because we are taught a fantasy about profits,productivity and the market,we have become dependant upon them,so we tolerate it,as if we need this market or companies deserve those profits.
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knitter4democracy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 07:49 PM
Response to Original message
15. I don't have to imagine. MIL has Bechet's.
She got it from the radiation therapy for her breast cancer (listed as one of the rare but possible side effects). She may be hard for me to deal with, but I wouldn't wish that disease on anyone. Awful to watch her suffer like that.

The latest theory for my health problems is that I have some autoimmune disease of some kind. The tests don't show anything, but I sure have problems most days. Starting some supplements has really helped, but we still don't know what's going on.
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we can do it Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-19-08 08:28 PM
Response to Original message
17. I Have Alopecia Areata and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-02-08 01:22 AM
Response to Reply #17
20. I have Hashimoto's disease too.
Diagnosed with dead thyroid at age 11. My mom was diagnosed with the same disease when she was the same age, in the early 1930s and treated with Armour Thyroid, same thing I take.

The rest of her family had rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately I did not inherit that.

Her family was full of drunken Scotsmen and Scotswomen. Don't know how much of that is hereditary, or just their drinking habits.

Also I have asthma and allergies. The asthma did not develop till I was grown.
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vireo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-22-08 03:25 PM
Response to Original message
19. mycoplasma?
There are 200 species of Mycoplasma. Most are innocuous and do no harm; only four or five are pathogenic. Mycoplasma fermentans (incognitus strain) probably comes from the nucleus of the Brucella bacterium. This disease agent is not a bacterium and not a virus; it is a mutated form of the Brucella bacterium, combined with a visna virus, from which the mycoplasma is extracted.

The pathogenic Mycoplasma used to be very innocuous, but biological warfare research conducted between 1942 and the present time has resulted in the creation of more deadly and infectious forms of Mycoplasma. Researchers extracted this mycoplasma from the Brucella bacterium and actually reduced the disease to a crystalline form. They "weaponised" it and tested it on an unsuspecting public in North America.

Dr Maurice Hilleman, chief virologist for the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme, stated that this disease agent is now carried by everybody in North America and possibly most people throughout the world.

Despite reporting flaws, there has clearly been an increased incidence of all the neuro/systemic degenerative diseases since World War II and especially since the 1970s with the arrival of previously unheard-of diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS.

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