What do former President George H.W. Bush, Fox Business News anchor Neil Cavuto, comedian and actor Bernie Mac, Poison lead singer and reality television star Bret Michaels and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Bobby Engram have in common?
They are among the millions of American men living with an autoimmune disease today. And, these men are the focus of a new public service campaign launched today by American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA).
The “Men Get Autoimmune Diseases, Too” campaign consists of 30-second radio and television public service announcements (PSAs) and educational materials designed to raise awareness about the fact that, while women are disproportionately affected, these diseases do not discriminate when it comes to gender. Specifically, the PSAs inform men about the importance of knowing their family AQ.
“AQ is a play on IQ and stands for Autoimmune Quotient. It's about knowing how likely you are to develop an autoimmune disease given the prevalence of theses disease in your family,” explained Virginia Ladd, president and executive director, AARDA.
Men and Autoimmune Disease
While nearly 75 percent of the more than 23.5 million Americans who suffer from autoimmune disease are women, millions of American men suffer from these diseases, too. However, autoimmune diseases that develop in men tend to be more severe.
There are a few autoimmune diseases that men are just as or more likely to develop as women, including:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Type 1 diabetes
- Wegener's granulomatosis
In addition, diseases that affect blood vessels can lead to problems with erection. For instance, with Type 1 diabetes, impotence, or erectile dysfunction (ED), may occur as a result of nerve or vascular damage associated with diabetes.
“Much more research and many more research dollars are needed for basic research to determine just how gender and sex hormones influence autoimmunity in men; for epidemiological studies to determine the exact number of men who suffer with ADs; and for clinical studies to better understand just how these diseases manifest in men as opposed to women,” said AARDA's Ladd.
About Autoimmunity and Autoimmune Diseases
There are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases including myasthenia gravis, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, polymyositis, vasculitis, lupus, autoimmune hepatitis, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), Sjögren's syndrome, Crohn's disease and Graves' disease. Autoimmunity is the underlying cause of these diseases. It is the process whereby the immune system mistakenly recognizes the body's own proteins as foreign invaders and begins producing antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues, causing a variety of diseases.
About American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
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.