According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) “approximately 32 million people in the U.S. have autoantibodies, which are proteins made by the immune system that target the body’s tissues and define a condition known as autoimmunity.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of more than 100 known autoimmune diseases like lupus or type 1 diabetes. If you test positive for autoantibodies you may never develop an autoimmune disease.
Our immune system is a sophisticated, delicate and an intricate design system which protects our health and bodies. But in people with autoimmune disorders, our immune systems create autoantibodies.
These autoantibodies wreak havoc and attack our healthy tissues and cells. According to Frederick Miller, M.D., Ph.D., an author of the study and acting clinical director at NIEHS, “the body’s immune system makes large numbers of proteins called antibodies to help the body fight off infections. In some cases, however, antibodies are produced that are directed against one's own tissues. These are referred to as autoantibodies.”
The study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health and the University of Florida Gainesville researchers, is the “first nationally representative sample looking at the prevalence of the most common type of autoantibody, known as antinuclear antibodies (ANA).”
For those of you who have an autoimmune disease, one of the most common tests your doctor will ask you to take is an ANA blood test to check your antibody levels. The NIH stated, “ANA are frequently measured biomarkers for detecting autoimmune diseases. Other factors, including drugs, cancer, and infections, are also known to cause autoantibodies in some people.”
The study found “that the frequency of ANA is highest among women, older individuals, and African-Americans.”
Interestingly enough, the study found “that the prevalence of ANA was lower in overweight and obese individuals than persons of normal weight.