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Your immune system is like a security guard for your health. Day and night, it’s patrolling your body, looking for any suspicious characters — viruses, cancer cells, etc. — so that it can attack and eliminate threats that can make you sick.
“The effects of autoimmune disease are devastating,” Olivia Casey, senior director of programs at the Autoimmune Association, and Frederick W. Miller, a National Institutes of Health Scientist Emeritus, wrote in Scientific American. “As a person’s own immune system attacks their body instead of microbes or cancerous cells, they can experience chronic fatigue, chronic pain, drug dependency, depression, and social isolation.”
There are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases, and the most common treatment for many of them — if one exists at all — are drugs that suppress the activity of the immune system, but they come with a trade-off: a weakened immune system that leaves a person at increased risk of infection.