Ankylosing Spondylitis: It’s Not All Genetic

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If you have been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, you probably carry a genetic marker called the Human Leukocyte Antigen or HLA-B27.

There’s a lot of attention paid to this marker, with speculation that it may be the “cause” of AS. But do you know that approximately 98% of people with HLA-B27 never get AS? That’s right—only two people out of a hundred with HLA-B27 ever get the disease.

Studies also show that 10-30% of AS sufferers don’t have the HLA-B27 gene at all. Clearly, genetics is not the whole story.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 65-100% of people with a specific health history will suffer from autoimmune diseases like AS in adulthood. Researchers call it an “Adverse Childhood Experience” or ACE.

Examples of ACE’s include physical, emotional and sexual abuse, alcohol and substance abuse, exposure to family members with mental illnesses, and other household dysfunctions.

Environmental factors like ACE’s coupled with genetic predispositions may illustrate a more accurate synopsis of who succumbs to rheumatic illnesses like  Ankylosing Spondylitis, and why.

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