Causes of Graves Disease

One of the main causes of Graves disease is the dysfunction of the body’s immune system. Normally, the body’s immune system is responsible for producing antibodies to fight specific bacteria, viruses, and other foreign agents. However, in the case of Graves disease, the immune system produces antibodies for a particular protein on the cell surface of the thyroid gland. These antibodies cause an overproduction of thyroid hormones resulting in hyperthyroidism. Some of the risk factors for Graves disease include:

  • Age: Studies show that people below the age of 40 years are more prone to developing Graves disease. Very commonly, Graves disease has its onset in the adolescent years of a person’s life.
  • Gender: Studies also confirm that women are more at risk of developing this disorder as compared to men.
  • Family History: A particular gene or genes may put an individual at a higher risk of Graves disease. If someone has a family history of this disorder, such as a parent or sibling with Graves disease, they are more likely to develop this condition themselves.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: People suffering from other autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or type-1 diabetes, have a higher risk of developing Graves disease.
  • Physical or Emotional Stress: Physical illnesses and mental stress can be big triggers for Graves disease. This is particularly true in the case of people who are genetically susceptible to this disorder.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoking has adverse effects on the body’s immune system and may increase the risk of developing Graves disease. If a person smokes a larger number of cigarettes during the day, he is at a higher risk of Graves disease. Smokers who already have Graves disease have a further increased risk of developing Graves ophthalmopathy.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth are more susceptible to developing Graves disease because of their lower immunity. This is also true if the pregnant woman has a genetic link to this disorder.