Regular exercise, not rest, reduces joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis. / David Madison/Getty Images
There are more than 100 known autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and lupus. Normally, your immune system is designed to protect your health. But in some people, the immune system creates autoantibodies that attack the cells and tissue they’re meant to protect.
According to a study, more than 32 million people in the USA have autoantibodies. Not all who test positive for them develop autoimmune diseases; experts believe genes and environmental factors may play a role. Here’s a look at some recent findings:
Exercise can help ease rheumatoid arthritis. A new report shows that more than 40% of patients are inactive, and about half didn’t think exercise would benefit them. Experts now encourage physical activity to help reduce the joint pain, stiffness and swelling that come with rheumatoid arthritis. Walking and water aerobics are good.
Psoriasis is associated with increased heart risks. Scientists found that people with the skin condition may have a greater risk of blocked arteries; their research also suggests heart risks are higher in those who’ve had it longer.
HPV vaccine is not a risk. The Gardasil vaccine is advised for young women to protect against HPV infection, which can lead to cervical cancer. Concerns that it may trigger autoimmune disorders led many parents to withhold it. But a company-funded review found that those who were vaccinated did not have higher rates of autoimmune conditions.