Chronic disease in the home – not just genetics

As a parent, I can safely say one of the biggest fears I had was my child would develop a chronic health condition. I was terrified he would be like me. One thing I can say I never thought about was if my husband would develop an autoimmune disease just from living with me.

No, no, they are obviously NOT contagious, but the American Gastroenterological Association announced a study in 2015 that showed close family members to those with celiac disease may be at risk for non-celiac autoimmune diseases, including lupus.

How Can These Things Be Connected?
MP900390113There is a 10 percent prevalence in first-degree relatives of a celiac patient. That means about 10 percent of first-degree relatives of a celiac patient develop celiac themselves. Now that statistic we can wrap our heads around right? Makes sense.

Now this spousal thing. Researchers studied and followed up over ten years to get these results. They checked records of cases of Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, hypothyroidism, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, systemic lupus erythematosus and ulcerative colitis for those living with a celiac patient.

What they found was 4.3 percent of the spouses with celiac disease developed non-celiac autoimmune diseases. The most common diseases they developed were lupus (SLE), type I diabetes mellitus and sarcoidosis. The higher incidence in spouses is being linked to environmental factors.

Want to learn more about what those risks are? Check out my post about how the environment impacts chronic disease development.

This study also believed microbiome characteristics shared between husband/wife could be impacting the risk.

Microbiome Characteristics
Microbiomes are the microbiological makeup in our bodies. They actually make up about five pounds of our body weight. They are the assembly of microbes within us. These sets of microbes can be passed down and maintained in families for generations. There are direct correlations between these microbe makeups and chronic diseases.

What does this all mean?
What this means is that there is now a study linking chronic disease development in a household, not just to blood relatives but to those closest to the person with the disease. The environment, combined with shared microbiome characteristics can put us at risk for autoimmune disease.

So it’s true everyone does share their microbes in your house!