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Autoimmune Skin Disorders – The 80/20 Rule

Bob Root, Keys Founder and Chief Scientist

In life, there seem to be consistent numbers that play out. One set is commonly called the 80/20 Rule. In tech, it meant that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. In the science of skin, it seems that 80% of autoimmune skin disorders are caused by just one thing. Recently some science has confirmed that trend.

A recent study I have read suggests that 80% of skin disorders are autoimmune related. In my book, Chemical-Free Skin Health®, I connected some of these to chemicals in everyday skincare products. The most notable are Phthalates and Parabens. Phthalates are chemical enhancers of fragrance, and parabens are a biocide preservative. Both toxicities are cumulative.

Another 80/20 rule in skincare is that 80% of autoimmune disorders strike women, with 20% affecting men. The most obvious for a first principle thinker is that women are the primary users of chemical-laden skincare and personal care products. When I wrote my book, estimates were that women used an average of 38 personal care products every day. Ironically, another study I have just read that is pre-peer-review notes that autoimmune skin diseases decreased during Covid. Which to me, also relates to the fact that women staying home were less likely to use as many of the same personal care products. Maybe a little more than a coincidence.

I have seen many manufacturers of laundry detergents and dryer sheets try to reduce Phthalates and parabens. Still, when I walk around, the smell of Tide and dryer sheets nauseate me. But what is the connection?  

Our friend and advisory, Dale Fowkes, just wrote an article in Nutricrafters about Telomeres   As a synopsis, Dale said, “Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of all chromosomes. They protect and separate one chromosome from another in the DNA sequence. Blackburn says telomeres effectively “cap” the end of a chromosome in a manner similar to the way the plastic on the ends of our shoelaces “caps” and protects the shoelaces from unraveling. In humans, every cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46. Each chromosome contains DNA (the building block of life) along with hundreds of genes. Telomeres separate each of these chromosomes from each other. But what is really interesting about telomeres, and the reason you should be aware of them is that they appear to be the “clock” that regulates how many times an individual cell can divide.”

Back to the 80/20 rule, I started to think about telomeres and the skin. Could most skin-related autoimmune disorders be caused by chemicals disrupting chromosome activity and growth? Could that be because some of the everyday chemicals in use in personal care be disrupting the telomeres?

At this point, I do not have an answer. I can say that Keys has a vast list of people and their disorders that went away when those people got chemical-free. Not sure of the why, but often it is the results of actions that people take that highlight and pinpoint a possible real cause.   

Just another reason to get chemical-free! If you have autoimmune skin disorders like Psoriasis, eczema et al., it is probably beneficial to start sleuthing causes.

Recently Scientific American Magazine ran a series of articles about autoimmune disorders titled “The Body Against Itself – Damage Control. Here is a link to that article on Apple News. If you cannot access it, you might try Googling the title.

Again, I honestly am not sure what the conclusion might be, but if the 80/20 rule is valid, the smoking gun is chemicals in our lives.


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