Newswise — DETROIT, April 5, 2016 -- Why did it take Oscar-nominated actress Kathleen Turner so long to get a correct rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis, even with her access to the finest physicians in the country? Does lupus impact a woman’s ability to have children and the heart condition that can affect them? What is the difference between a disease-specific specialist and an autoimmune disease specialist? What exactly is Sjögren’s syndrome and how does it affect women including tennis Grand-Slam winner Venus Williams? Why are women more likely to develop these seemingly unrelated diseases?

When award-winning journalist Rita Baron-Faust and renown lupus researcher, Dr. Jill Buyon, first published The Autoimmune Connection: Essential Information for Women on Diagnosis, Treatment and Getting on with Your Life some 14 years ago, it was the first book to answer the myriad questions being asked by the millions of American women suffering with autoimmune diseases (ADs).

Since then, major advances have been achieved in the diagnosis and treatment of ADs and even more ADs have been identified. Today, there are more than 100 recognized ADs that affect some 50 million Americans, 75 percent of whom are women.

This book, which contains more than a decade of new research, is for those women – and their families.

In the newly-published revised edition (McGraw-Hill, 2016), the authors recount individual patient stories, including Turner’s; explain the links between autoimmune diseases; tie risk factors like smoking to specific ADs; and, offer up-to-minute information on diagnosis, treatments, and risks for women with one or more ADs, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, vitiligo and scleroderma.

Women will learn how to sort out vague and seemingly unrelated early signs and symptoms and handle doctors who tell them it’s “all in their heads;” which diagnostic tests they may need and what the results can mean; how ADs and their treatments can affect them at different stages of life including during pregnancy and menopause; what new treatments and therapies are available, such as stem cell transplants and gene therapy, as well as those on the horizon; where to find the proper specialist; and, how to navigate the health-care system in the age of the Affordable Care Act.

Among the newest information highlighted is: ● Major breakthroughs in the treatment of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and more.

● Potential environmental triggers for autoimmunity, such as cigarette smoke, viruses and bacteria -- including a common sexually transmitted disease -- as well as potential links to the microbes that normally live in our bodies, and pesticides and pollutants

● The newest biological drugs on the market and cutting-edge therapies now being tested.

● How healthcare law reforms affect autoimmune patients, along with key changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

“Because autoimmunity is a major women’s health issue, it is a major ‘family’ issue,” said Virginia T. Ladd, Founder and Executive Director, American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. “Autoimmune diseases represent the third largest cause of chronic illness among women in the U.S. and are among the top 10 leading causes of death among American women age 65 and younger. Yet, even as new research and groundbreaking biological treatments have changed outcomes for AD patients, too many physicians are still quick to dismiss women’s symptoms as something that is ‘all in their heads.’

“The updated version of this book will serve to educate women about an important area affecting their health, well-being and families, empower them to become their own advocates and to learn more about their own family history of AD, especially when family members can be affected by seemingly different diseases which may not even be recognized as autoimmune – but are.”

In addition to giving women the tools they need to understand and manage their ADs, the book provides a range of resources and strategies they can use to make a difference, including the new Autoimmune Disease Patient Registry Research Network (ARNet), a comprehensive central database of anonymous patient information.

“By collecting patient diagnoses, clinical data, and perhaps results of laboratory and imaging studies, along with key demographics, this “big data” endeavor will facilitate the sharing of information among medical experts and researchers, advance understanding of ADs and hopefully lead to better treatments and a cure for these closely linked illnesses,” said Noel R. Rose, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard Medical School and Chair Emeritus, Scientific Advisory Board, AARDA.

About the AuthorsRita Baron-Faust is an award-winning medical journalist and author of five books on women's health. She has been a contributor to the Rheumatology Network, MedPage Today, WebMed, among others. Ms. Baron-Faust began her career at the Associated Press and for 10 years was the writer and producer of the multi-award-winning “Report on Medicine,” for WCBS News Radio 88 in New York City. Baron-Faust’s work has appeared in national consumer magazines including Scientific American Presents, Woman’s Day, Redbook, McCall’s and Harper’s Bazaar as well as in academic and professional journals. She is currently an adjunct professor in the department of Biology and Health Promotion at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY, and was a two term member of the board of directors of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association.

Jill P. Buyon, M.D., is the director of the Division of Rheumatology at the NYU School of Medicine/NYU Langone Medical Center, the Lady Va and Sir Deryck Maughan Professor of Rheumatology at the NYU School of Medicine. She is also the founder and Director of the NYU Lupus Center at the NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases. Dr. Buyon is Editor-In-Chief of the journal Lupus Science & Medicine and is an internationally-recognized researcher in the field of neonatal lupus.

About American Autoimmune Related Diseases AssociationCelebrating its 25th anniversary, 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 www.aarda.org.

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CONTACT: Cindy Carway/Stephanie HornbackCarway Communications, [email protected]@CarwayComms