Chemicals in Lipstick, Hairspray, Pollution Linked to Autoimmune Disorders

We have long been writing about the potential links between d<"">isease and the environment. Now, says Science Daily, these links, specifically with “autoimmune diseases, infections, and genetics” might be directly connected to the environments in which we live and work.

According to Professor Michael Ehrenfeld of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, our environment works with our “genetic programming” and can also “determine” if we will develop an autoimmune disease, said Science Daily. Most recently, Professor Ehrenfeld published a report in the journal Autoimmune Reviews on how “Spondylo-arthropathies,” are triggered by the environment, reported Science Daily. Spondyl-arthropathies are, said Science Daily, “a group of common inflammatory rheumatic disorders.”

Professor Ehrenfeld has also researched how “Sjögren’s syndrome,” a dry-eye and mouth disease, is likely environmentally triggered. “The onset of autoimmune diseases is a mixture of genetics, which you can’t change, and environmental factors, which, in some cases you can,” said Professor Ehrenfeld, quoted Science Daily.

Although pollution is a known trigger, “there are some environmental factors harder to avoid. For example, reactive arthritis is caused by a severe gastro-intestinal, urinary, or sexual infection in some people,” he said, reported Science Daily. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease, reported Science Daily, that affects over two million people in the United States alone, and appears to strike women more than men. In RA, the body’s immune system attacks the joints, which causes pain, loss of movement, and deformities, noted Science Daily.

Although what genes are responsible for RA and why some people are more prone to this disease over others remains in question, it is known, said Professor Ehrenfeld, that stress and arthritis are linked, according to Science Daily. Also, Lupus is sometimes linked to birth control pills. “You won’t know if taking the pill or getting a certain virus will trigger arthritis, because we don’t yet know the genes that encode the various autoimmune diseases,” he said. “Obviously those people whose family members share a history of rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune diseases including thyroid problems, should be more vigilant, because their chances are higher,” Professor Ehrenfeld added, quoted Science Daily.

Autoimmune diseases also appear to be sparked by environmental pollutants such as second-hand cigarette smoke, chemicals in food or the air, jet fuel fumes, and UV exposure, reported Science Daily. Also, some densely industrial areas appear to have higher incidences of autoimmune diseases.

To a smaller extent, Professor Ehrenfeld notes that common cosmetic products—hairspray, lipstick—are linked to autoimmune diseases. “Most people think arthritis has to do with old age…. This is false. There is only one major type of arthritis in older people: Osteoarthritis … brought on by degenerative changes in the body. What you see in older adults is usually a non-inflammatory and non-autoimmune type of arthritis … the debilitating and inflammatory types usually occur in young women between the ages of 20 and 40,” Professor Ehrenfeld said, according to Science Daily.

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