Kim Kardashian West impacted by autoimmune disease, a major women’s health issue.

Newswise — Eastpointe, Michigan (September 10, 2019) – Named a major women’s health issue by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, it is no surprise that the number of celebrities impacted by autoimmune disease is on the rise. Kim Kardashian West recently opened up about the impact of autoimmune disease on her life. Other celebrities with autoimmune disease diagnoses include Venus Williams, Selena Gomez, and Missy Elliott.

The term “autoimmune disease” refers to this varied group of illnesses that involve almost every human organ system. It includes diseases of the nervous, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems as well as skin and other connective tissues, eyes, blood, and blood vessels. In all of these diseases, the underlying problem is similar--the body’s immune system becomes misdirected, attacking the very organs it was designed to protect.

Taken together, autoimmune diseases strike women three times more often than men. Certain diseases have even higher incidence in women. In fact, of the 50 million Americans living with autoimmunity, some estimates say that 75 percent - or 30 million people - are women. Autoimmune diseases have been cited in the top ten leading causes of all deaths among U.S. women age 65 and younger. Moreover, these diseases represent the fourth largest cause of disability among women in the United States.

Since the women affected are mostly young women in their childbearing years, a time when they are traditionally most healthy, getting a diagnosis can prove to be extremely difficult. Symptoms vary widely, notably from one illness to another and even within the same disease. And because the diseases affect multiple body systems, their symptoms are often misleading, which hinders accurate diagnosis. An American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) survey has found that more than 45 percent of patients with autoimmune diseases have been labeled hypochondriacs in the earliest stages of their illnesses.

Despite these statistics, autoimmune diseases remain among the most poorly understood and poorly recognized of any category of illness. Individual diseases range from the benign to the severe. To help women live longer and healthier lives, a better understanding of these diseases is needed, as well as better, more effective methods of diagnosis and treatment.

Autoimmunity needs to become known as a “category” of disease. If the public and medical practitioners were more aware of the genetic predisposition to develop autoimmune diseases, clearly there would be more emphasis on taking a medical history regarding autoimmune diseases within the family when presented by a patient with confusing symptoms. Young women, especially, are often not taken seriously when they first begin consulting their doctors for their vague symptoms and are often shunted from specialist to specialist.  

There is a significant need for more collaboration and cross fertilization of basic autoimmune research. Research that focuses on the etiology of all autoimmune related diseases will bring us to the root causes of these diseases rather than the superficial level of treating the symptoms after the disease has had its destructive effects.

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About AARDA:

The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) is the nation's only non-profit organization dedicated to bringing a national focus to autoimmunity as a category of disease and a major women's health issue and promoting a collaborative research effort in order to find better treatments and a cure for all autoimmune diseases. For more information, please visit

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