Recent evidence suggests that autoimmune diseases are rising in the US with an increasing occurrence of autoimmunity. New research published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology gives us the facts to support this belief. Undertaken by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the study shows a significant increase in the antinuclear antibodies (ANA) among Americans, particularly in certain groups. ANA acts as the most common biomarker for autoimmunity.
The study was undertaken to check the prevalence of ANA and its changing profile in the last 25 years. The researchers used information from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, picking data on 14,211 participants, who were more than 12 years old. Data was gathered for three time periods, 1988‐1991, 1999‐2004, and 2011‐2012. The team considered age, sex, as well as race or ethnicity. They used a fluorescent dye to highlight antibodies. This helped them examine the ANAs in the participants.
They found that ANA prevalence was steadily increasing with a marked increase between the second and third time period. For 1988-1991 it was 11.0 percent, which showed a minor jump to 11.5 percent, in 1999-2004. For 2011-2012 this rose to 15.9 percent. The data corresponded to 22, 27, and 41 million affected people, respectively. From the second to the third period, ANA prevalence rose steeply in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years. The increase was seen in both sexes, older adults (people more than 50 years of age), and among non‐Hispanic whites. The researchers discounted the effect of smoking, obesity/overweight, or drinking.