“Growing Season,” The Ladydrawers’ exploration of the links between public health, race and food policy, continues with this month’s strip, “Epidemic,” which traces links between federal laws and the alarming rise of autoimmune diseases in the US. It’s drawn by Melissa Mendes, whose previous strips in the series – “Cultivating Policy” and “Cultivation” – looked at communities of color and food justice. It’s a personal issue for The Ladydrawers Comics Collective (try to spot ’em all!), just as it is for a growing number of people around the country.
1. The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc. (AARDA) goes on to note,”We at AARDA say that 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease. Why the difference? The NIH numbers only include 24 diseases for which good epidemiology studies were available.” The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.,“Autoimmune Statistics.”
2. “There aren’t a large number of epidemiological studies published [on autoimmune disorders] because it’s very slow research – it can take 20 years. No investigator likes to do that kind of work. It’s also very expensive,” Noel R. Rose, MD, director of Johns Hopkins Autoimmune Disease Research Center, told Self in April. As for why these diseases are on the rise, Rose says, “There are good enough studies coming out to convince me that at least some autoimmune diseases are going up and going up quite rapidly. The question, of course, is why. There has to be some kind of environmental exposure, because genetics – which account for about a third of all cases – don’t change that fast. See “Autoimmune Epidemic: The Medical Experts.”
3. AARDA website, Ibid: “Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women in all age groups up to 64 years of age.”