(HealthDay News) -- Having an autoimmune disease means that the body's germ-fighting immune system mistakenly attacks normal cells.
The womenshealth.gov Web site says there are more than 80 known autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.
While anyone can acquire an autoimmune disease, the site mentions these factors that increase a person's risk:
- Being a woman of childbearing age.
- Having a family history of one or more autoimmune diseases.
- Exposure to certain chemicals and environmental factors.
- Being of a particular ethnic background or race. Risk varies based on the particular disease.