Autoimmune Disease, Arthritis and Women

Why are women targeted more than men?

Autoimmune diseases that cause arthritis symptoms tend to affect more women than men. This understanding has been established for well over a hundred years, but only in recent years has research paid specific focus to possible reasoning.

Autoimmune Disease and Arthritis

There are 50 million Americans that live with an autoimmune disease and more than 75 percent are women. The term “autoimmune disease” refers to a group of different illnesses characterized by a problem called “autoimmunity,” wherein the body’s immune system attacks the cells it is supposed to protect.

Many autoimmune diseases are characterized by inflammation of the joints in addition to inflammation of connective and soft tissues and even organs. The most common autoimmune diseases that cause arthritis symptoms include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Still’s Disease, juvenile arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis, primary sjogren’s syndrome and mixed connective tissue disease.

Statistics for Women

Women are three times more likely than men to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, this according to estimates reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Moreover, autoimmune disease has been cited as one of the top causes of death among U.S. women under the age of 65 and is also the fourth largest reason for disability among American women.

Possible Explanations

Why exactly are women more prone to arthritis producing autoimmune disease than are men? Here are some possible explanations.

Hormones. Some researchers believe that because women produce estrogen, it puts them at a greater risk for autoimmune disease. In fact, research has shown that high estrogen levels force women’s bodies’ overreact much like the response of autoimmunity.

Environment. Researchers pay a lot more attention to the role played by environmental factors as an underlying trigger to autoimmune disease. It is very likely that exposure to external toxins, such as environmental pollutants and medication, can trigger an autoimmune response. And the role that men and women play at home and in the workplace can help determine who is exposed to specific toxins. Researchers are also looking at products that women use in greater frequency, such as hair dyes and makeup, to determine if these pay a role.

Genes. Genetic differences between men and women are a big consideration in explaining why women are more likely to develop autoimmune diseases. Most research has pointed to the fact that women and men have completely different cells throughout their entire bodies despite having similar tissues. A revealing study out of the University of Manchester UK hinted that X chromosomes play a part in the development of autoimmune disease and because women have two of these, their risk becomes greater.

Stress. Stress affects the body’s ability manage immune functions. In fact, autoimmunity can result when stress alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate inflammation. The belief is that because women process stress differently than men, the reduced levels of cortisol encourage inflammation rather than inhibit it.

Evidence is Only Circumstantial

While researchers do identify hormones, environmental factors, genes and stress as potential contributing factors to the higher incidence of autoimmune disease in women, these triggers are at best circumstantial. What do know is that while autoimmune disease is more common in women, men are often affected much more severely. Interestingly, research in animal studies have shown the same bias. To sum up, while hormones, environmental factors, genes, and stress may play a role in a women’s autoimmune response, they have very little to do with how strong that response will be.

9 Ways To Prevent Arthritis Flare-Ups

It’s difficult to predict when a flare-up may occur, but you may be able to reduce them if you know your triggers.

​9 Ways To Prevent Arthritis Flare-Ups

One of the most difficult things I have come across as I manage my arthritis symptoms is predicting the possibility of flare-ups. While I can’t always keep them from occurring, I have learned how to reduce my chances of having a flare-up.

Here are nine things I do to help me to keep arthritis flare-ups at bay.

Plan Ahead

I often think ahead because I know that my daily habits help me to manage my life with arthritis. I plan ahead in everything I do from shopping to being prepared for an upcoming event because I never know when fatigue and pain will take over.


Review of In Your Hands by Dr. Larry Berkelhammer


I have struggled to cope with chronic illness and I have often felt like healthy living was out of my control as many of you have. From the moment I picked up In Your Hands by Dr. Larry Berkelhammer, I realized that I did not need to feel a loss of control and or that there weren’t enough answers.

There was a time when Dr. Berkelhammer had usual symptoms that no one could explain so he knows firsthand what feels like to be sick and not know why.  Like many of you, he had to continue on with his life despite not feeling well and not having a diagnosis.  In Your Hands narrates the doctor’s journey towards finding answers and trying to maintain a positive attitude so as to feel better physically better along the way.  Eventually Dr. Berkelhammer got a diagnosis but, as reminiscent of this book, that was only a small part in his journey towards healthy wellbeing despite illness.

Dr. Berkelhammer is here to inspire us in kind and nurturing way. He knows we try hard to manage our illnesses and we do so day in and day out so he wants us to make the best use of our coping skills. He also knows that all of this has an effect on self-esteem and can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It is hard knowing that there are no cures for our conditions and that we cannot predict our lives day to day.

But Dr. Berkelhammer shows us a different way of living. He does this by gently nudging and encouraging you to think about all the ways in which you can live your life fully.  He uses proven methods to teach you how to take charge of your health and emotions so that you become a master at your own health and wellbeing.

About Larry Berkelhammer, PhD

Larry Berkelhammer, PhD, is an author, educator, speaker, and talk show host whose work focuses on the mind’s impact on health. You can find out more about him at his website.

Larry Berkelhammer, PhD


You can purchase In Your Hands through the following online retailers.

Barnes & Noble

I did not receive compensation for this review.  I did, however, receive a free copy of the book.

Five Common Misconceptions About Asbestos

Most people know that asbestos is lethal. Most people know that when it is inhaled, it can cause painful diseases like asbestosis and mesothelioma. But decades of misinformation have helped give rise to many myths about asbestos that persist to this day–and helped conceal the fact that asbestos is more dangerous than many people realize.

MYTH: In small amounts, asbestos is harmless.

REALITY: According to the EPA, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. While the risk of side effects increases with the level of exposure, inhaling even a few fibers can be dangerous. Once lodged in a person’s lung tissue, the fibers can remain there indefinitely, and a small amount can still lead to adverse side effects and fatality resulting from asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Read more.