Immune Systems Increasingly On Attack
March 20, 2008
Increases in immune system disasters have greatly increased in recent years. Asthma cases, hay fever, eczema, food allergies, lupus, multiple sclerosis and other afflictions are all on the rise.
Asthma, hay fever, eczema and food allergies are all "allergic diseases" caused by your immune system responding to substances that are ordinarily harmless, such as pollen or peanuts. Autoimmune diseases, which include lupus, MS, Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease, also result from your body‘s defense mechanisms malfunctioning, causing your immune system to attack parts of your body such as your nerves, pancreas or digestive tract.
Experts estimate that many allergies and immune-system diseases have doubled, tripled or even quadrupled in the last few decades. Some studies indicate that more than half of the U.S. population has at least one allergy.
Many researchers suspect the increase has an explanation rooted in aspects of modern living -- including the "hygiene hypothesis," which blames growing up in increasingly sterile homes. Others have pointed to changes in diet, air pollution, and even the rise in obesity and sedentary lifestyles.
One reason that many researchers suspect something about modern living is to blame is that the increases show up largely in highly developed countries in Europe and North America. The illnesses have only started to rise in other countries as they have become more developed.