Study Finds Link Between Endometriosis and Autoimmune, Hormone
A study, published in the September 2002 issue of the journal Human Reproduction, found that women with endometriosis are much more likely to suffer from
rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue
syndrome, fibromyalgia and allergies. Endometriosis is a leading cause of infertility in which tissue from the womb lining grows elsewhere in the body. It afflicts between 8 percent and 10 percent of women of childbearing age.
The study, conducted by scientists at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, George Washington University and the Endometriosis Association, involved 3,680 women with endometriosis. It is the first study to scientifically document something that has been noticed by many women with the painful disorder.
The scientists found that 20 percent of the women had more than one other disease. A third of the women who had other diseases had
fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue
syndrome, and some of those women also had other autoimmune or hormone diseases.
Chronic fatigue syndrome was more than 100 times more common than among the general U.S. female population.
Hypothyroidism was seven times more common.
Fibromyalgia was twice as common among the women with endometriosis.
Autoimmune inflammatory diseases such as systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, also occurred more frequently than normal.
So were the rates of allergic conditions. Researchers reported that the incidence of allergies in women increased from 18 percent to 61 percent when they were diagnosed with endometriosis. The rate climbed even higher if the women had additional diseases.
The researchers urged doctors to look for the other diseases in women when diagnosing endometriosis.
According to the researchers and other experts who reviewed the study, an immune system abnormality may underlie all these conditions. The cause of endometriosis or other autoimmune diseases are not known. But studies have suggested that the malfunctioning of certain immune system chemicals called cytokines may be a common link.
Source: Emma Ross, Associated Press, Sep 26, 2002