Why are 80% of people who get autoimmune disease are women?

May 15, 2023 | autoimmune disease, Women's Health

This blog dives into the fascinating question: Why are women 80% of all the people who get autoimmune diseases?

I believe the biggest reason is the XX factor – the second X chromosome that shows up at birth with 85% of the genes having the potential to become pointed in the direction of disease rather than the direction of health.

Autoimmune disease occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own body parts.  This can start at the cellular level where the immune system starts to attack its own DNA, the nuclear material, referred to as a Positive ANA and since 2018, Bilstrom’s Nuclearitis.

There are over 100 different manifestations of autoimmune disease, ranging from mild to life-threatening. All robbing women and their families of quality of life.

A striking statistic is that about 80% of people who get autoimmune disease are women. In this blog, we will delve into the reasons behind why having two X chromosomes can create such a challenge to a body that wants to stay healthy and discuss current research and possible solutions.

Hormonal Differences

Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, plays a crucial role in immune system regulation. Studies have shown that estrogen can both enhance and suppress the immune response, depending on its concentration. In women, fluctuating hormone levels during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can cause an increased susceptibility to autoimmune diseases.

Estrogen dominance (too much estrogen, compared to progesterone) is a huge driver of autoimmune disease in women and the number one killer of women.  I’ve learned so much about the negative effects of estrogen dominance (and the simple ways to reverse it) that my upcoming book is dedicated to this topic.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors may also contribute to the higher prevalence of autoimmune disease among women. Some studies suggest that women are more likely to be exposed to certain environmental triggers, such as chemicals found in cosmetics and cleaning products. These substances may lead to a heightened immune response, resulting in the development of autoimmune diseases.

Psychological Factors

Stress has been linked to the development and exacerbation of autoimmune diseases. Women are more likely to experience stress related to their roles as caregivers and balancing work and family life. Increased stress will contribute to an overactive immune response, leading to the development of autoimmune disease.

Born with a Susceptibility: The Second X Chromosome’s Role in Autoimmune Disease

Besides hormonal differences, environmental factors, and psychological stressors, the second X chromosome in women creates a unique sensitivity to these factors. These influences can lead to epigenetic changes, which means they affect gene expression and activate disease.

As we dive deeper, we’ll look into the connection between the X chromosome and autoimmune disease in women, as well as the super important role of methylation reactions in helping to prevent these epigenetic changes from occurring.

The X Chromosome and Women’s Health

Women have two copies of the X chromosome in every cell in their body, while men have one X and one Y chromosome. To maintain optimal health, women must shut down over 85% of the entire second X chromosome in every cell due to the presence of numerous harmful genes. The body compensates for this by moving the problematic X chromosomes to the periphery of the cell nucleus. Ideally, moving it from where “all the action is” to the “boring, out of the way” periphery where “nothing ever happens” when the body is really healthy.

The Nucleolus and Its Role in Protein Production

The nucleolus is like a large manufacturing plant, also located on the outside of the nucleus. It is responsible for creating essential proteins. However, it can also produce toxic substances as a byproduct of protein production.

Like a city’s manufacturing plant, which is not operated in the middle of downtown next to the coffee shop.  The city locates it away from the city center, usually near the outskirts of town. The nucleolus, a protein manufacturing plant in your body, is positioned on the periphery of the nucleus.

Chronic Infections and the X Chromosome

Chronic infections, such as the Epstein-Barr virus, are part of every chronic disease, not just autoimmune diseases. These chronic infections take advantage of the compensatory mechanisms that the body uses to maintain health, particularly in women with the second X chromosome.

When a virus enters our system, it aims to make us sick by creating proteins from its genetic material. It will attempt to use our cellular machinery to reproduce itself and produce more proteins that make us feel ill.

The virus heads to the nucleolus, the manufacturing plant, to achieve this. As the nucleolus grows to accommodate the virus’s desire to make as many of the proteins as possible that will make us sick, it may engulf part of the X chromosome next to it, leading to the production of harmful proteins coded by the X chromosome’s genes.

Preventing Autoimmune Disease: The Importance of Methylation Reactions

Methylation reactions play a crucial role in preventing the activation of harmful X chromosome genes and the development of autoimmune diseases in women.

Methylation is essential for regulating gene expression and protecting our cells from harmful proteins. Methylation is also a vital biochemical process that influences detoxification and neurotransmitter synthesis.

Ensuring proper methylation is essential for maintaining optimal health.

Here are some ways to support methylation in the body:

1. Supportive diet: Consume a balanced diet rich in natural whole foods, including  cruciferous vegetables, animal protein and healthy fats. Foods rich in B vitamins, especially B6, B9 (folate), and B12, can promote methylation. These can be found in leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, and animal proteins.

2. Supplement with nutraceuticals: If necessary, consider taking B-vitamin supplements, specifically methylfolate (L-5-MTHF) and methylcobalamin (B12), to support methylation.

3. Limit processed foods: Reduce the intake of processed foods and refined carbohydrates, which may deplete essential nutrients and negatively impact methylation.

4. Avoid excessive alcohol: Limit alcohol consumption, as it may interfere with methylation and deplete B-vitamin levels.

5. Exercise regularly: Engage in regular physical activity to support overall health, including optimal methylation.

6. Manage stress: Chronic stress may disrupt methylation, so practice stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga.

7. Get enough sleep: Prioritize adequate and quality sleep to support overall health, including methylation processes.

8. Maintain a healthy gut: A healthy gut microbiome can contribute to proper nutrient absorption, including B-vitamins.

9. Avoid environmental toxins: Minimize exposure to environmental toxins like heavy metals and pesticides, which can disrupt methylation.

Also be aware that many medications can also deplete the body of B vitamins. These include drugs such as acid blockers/antacids, antibiotics, anticonvulsants (used for seizure prevention), anti-inflammatories (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, celecoxib, indomethacin), blood pressure medications, blood sugar medicines, anti-parkinson drugs, steroids used for asthma, steroids such as prednisone, oral birth control pills, and other hormone replacement therapies.

Ensure an adequate intake of methyl groups

By ensuring an adequate intake of methyl groups through diet, lifestyle choices and nutraceutical supplementation (e.g., methylated B vitamins and trimethylglycine), women can support methylation reactions.

The X chromosome and the importance of methylation reactions play a crucial role in women’s increased susceptibility to autoimmune diseases. By understanding these mechanisms and ensuring proper methylation support, women can take proactive steps towards maintaining their health and reducing their risk of developing autoimmune conditions.

For more tips and daily strategies on how to reverse and prevent all types of autoimmune and chronic conditions, join my Free 7-Day Educational Email Course 👉Medical Bill Detox: How to Solve the Root Cause of Autoimmune Disease & Stop Spending Thousands of Dollars on Unnecessary Treatments. http://www.MedicalBillDetox.com

“Got a Revolution, got to Revolution.”  Jefferson Airplane


Dr. David Bilstrom
Autoimmune Functional Medicine Doctornatural treatment for autoimmune disease by Dr David Bilstrom Functional Medicine Doctor MD



Medical Bill Detox

Free 7-Day Educational Email Course

How to Solve the Root Cause of Autoimmune Disease & Stop Spending Thousands of Dollars on Unnecessary Treatments (based on 20 years experience.)

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