Researchers say about 1 in 10 individuals are now affected by autoimmune disorders and have revealed new clues on possible causes.
There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases known, with common examples including rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. While some autoimmune disorders, such as Type 1 diabetes, are reported to have increased over the past several decades, the authors of a new study published in The Lancet say that contemporary estimates of the overall incidence of autoimmune diseases and trends over time are “scarce and inconsistent”.
In an attempt to try and answer some of the unanswered questions, a consortium of experts in epidemiology, biostatistics, rheumatology, endocrinology, and immunology joined forces to investigate the incidence and prevalence of nineteen of the most common autoimmune diseases in the UK. Using data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) of over 22m people between 2000 and 2019, the researchers examined whether cases of autoimmune diseases were rising over time, who was most affected by these conditions and how different autoimmune diseases co-existed with each other.
While previous estimates for the prevalence of autoimmune disorders had ranged from 3-9%, the new study found that, added together, the 19 autoimmune disorders examined affected 10.2% of the population over the study period – 13.1% women and 7.4% men.
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