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Women and Autoimmune Disease


A cutting–edge examination of the mysterious world of autoimmune disease –– and the new discoveries made daily that may save women's lives

Autoimmune diseases –– including chronic fatigue syndrome, vasculitis, juvenile diabetes, alopecia, Graves' disease, Sjogren's syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis –– are among the most devastating conditions afflicting women today and the most resistant to diagnosis and treatment. In all of them, the body's immune system begins to attack healthy and normally functioning cells. And one of the biggest puzzles is why 80 percent of autoimmune disease sufferers are women. In this groundbreaking book, world–class immunologist Dr. Robert Lahita brings years of intensive research, patient care, and diagnostics to shed light on the mysteries of these conditions, with a particular focus on how they affect –– and how he treats –– women.

Through case studies, he reveals the early warning signs, symptoms, diagnostic processes, and the most innovative treatments for all the most common –– and many of the less well known –– autoimmune diseases. He offers a scientifically sound and sensitive work that is the best resource available to help understand these perplexing and debilitating diseases.

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Lahita, a doctor who wrote the textbook on autoimmune disease for medical professionals, as well as a layperson's book on rheumatoid arthritis , concentrates here on how autoimmune diseases afflict women, who make up 75% of cases nationwide. A healthy immune system defends the body from antigens such as viruses and bacteria. But sometimes the immune system erroneously attacks healthy cells, leading to autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and vasculitis. Lahita, aided by medical writer Yalof, draws on research and case studies to identify 16 conditions that have been categorized as autoimmune diseases (he includes chronic fatigue syndrome, though its cause remains uncertain) and describes at length the symptoms, causes and possible treatments for these debilitating ailments. Treatment is complicated, according to Lahita, since patients are often diagnosed too late because their complex symptoms mimic those of other conditions. A patient with vasculitis, for example, was first thought to have meningitis. This clearly written text should be extremely useful to people with these difficult ailments, their families and caregivers. Lahita, however, is suspicious of alternative herbal or homeopathic therapies, which he says have not been scientifically found to be effective. Agent, Barbara Lowenstein. (Aug. 20) Forecast: There is a very large potential audience for this book on a subject not much written about for general readers. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Autoimmunologist Lahita (New York Medical Coll.; Lupus: Everything You Need To Know) here argues that autoimmune diseases are a special threat to women. After overviews of the immune system and autoimmune diseases, he and medical writer Yalof look at 15 wide-ranging diseases via a patient scenario, symptoms/ features, diagnosis, theories of causation, treatment, and future research, including juvenile diabetes and multiple sclerosis. One chapter deals with fibromyalgia and syndromes that, although not technically autoimmune diseases, often travel with them. Part 3, meanwhile, discusses treatments, with chapters on drugs and complementary and alternative therapies (Lahita supports some complementary therapy but adamantly opposes using alternative treatments as substitutes for conventional medicine). Curiously, he does not broach the financial burden of these treatments, even though he says his goal is to influence legislators and powerful people. Despite the use of real patient cases to provide a dramatic, human element, this authoritative book may challenge lay readers. Overall, however, it is an effective portrayal of the frustrations of diagnosing and treating these serious and variable diseases. Highly recommended for all consumer health collections. Lisa McCormick, Jewish Hosp. Health Sciences Lib., Cincinnati Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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