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Does scleroderma help prevent colds and cancers?

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#1 georgie1111


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Posted 16 July 2011 - 04:01 PM

This site is so excellent, I have learned a lot from it already but have another question...I was either told or read somewhere some time ago that scleroderma means that your immune system is too fast and being so fast it was harder for us to catch colds and was even a good preventitive for some cancers? Is that right as I can't even remember when I had a cold last? When I was a kid I was never sick but my 7 siblings all had colds and tonsilitis, ear infections and all the childhood diseases (measles,mumps,etc) all had their apendix removed and tonsils removed due to constant infections. I got NONE of these still got me tonsils and appendix, is that just coincidence that all my siblings were sickly and I never caught their germs etc? 7 sickly kids and 1 never sick (or rarely) and I am the only one with scleroderma? As a child it amazed me that they were always in bed with some ailment or another, I even paid my brother sixpence to breathe on me so I could get the chicken pox so I could stay home from school but never got it?? I have always enjoyed very good health until now when sclero made itself known via symptoms. What are the chances that I have always had it and it just went retrograde as I aged?? georgie

#2 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 16 July 2011 - 05:27 PM

Hello Georgie

Paying a sickly sibling to breathe on you...classic! Hilarious that it didn't work!

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease which means that the immune system is in overdrive and attacking the body it's supposed to defend from infection etc.

I am an identical twin and I was often sick as a child, more so than my sister, now as an adult I have scleroderma and she doesn't have any autoimmune disease that we know of.

I am not aware of any findings supporting the fact that having scleroderma defends you from cancer or anything else. In fact there are some findings suggesting that scleroderma can increase the incidence of some forms of cancer.

Whether scleroderma is something we're born with that comes out later in life in response to circumstances/stress/results of childhood trauma/environmental factors etc is debatable and really no one knows for sure just yet.

Take care.
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#3 marsha


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Posted 16 July 2011 - 07:14 PM


I don't normally get colds, I always thought of myself as a very healthy person, until I hit about 43 then everything broke loose.

I started feeling old, sore, tired, my raynauds (that I had been dealing with for 7 years prior) started, getting sores on my fingers and toes and that is when I went to the doctor and said what is going on? Anyway back to colds, I have been getting my flu shot every year and this past winter I ended up getting the flu. It was awful and long, even with Tamiflu. I would love to think us sisters and brothers in Scleroderma would get some type of relief even if it is just not getting sick, but in my life that hasn't happened.

#4 CraigR


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Posted 17 July 2011 - 12:20 AM

Nine years ago I came down with lymphoma. A doctor of mine said that lymphoma seems to be associated with autoimmune diseases.

Sjogren's syndrome (a common secondary autoimmune condition to scleroderma) is associated with much higher rates of lymphoma.

So the cancer situation probably isn't that good.


#5 Vanessa


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Posted 17 July 2011 - 12:59 AM

Hi there

I have just had breast cancer and it is my understanding that Scleroderma increases the chances of developing that too.

Sorry to throw yet more cold water.


PS Remember to check your breasts regularly

#6 Joelf


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Posted 17 July 2011 - 07:10 AM

Hi Georgie,

Well, I've heard of parents holding "Chickenpox Parties" to enable their offspring to contract the disease at a young age and get it over with! :lol:

Until I developed Scleroderma I had always been disgustingly healthy as a child and also as an adult; I had the normal childhood diseases and the worse thing I had was double pneumonia when I was six. Whether that's the reason that Sclero attacked my lungs as opposed to other parts of my body I wouldn't like to say. :emoticon-dont-know:

As for the cancer probability, I was a bit concerned about the medication I take as it can be carcinogenic but by the same token I would be very ill without it so feel that it's probably worth the risk! ;)
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#7 Snowbird


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Posted 17 July 2011 - 06:08 PM

Hi Georgie

Well, you've certainly given us our chuckle for the day. I laughed so hard at imagining you paying your brother to breathe on you to make you sick just so you could stay home from school! Priceless!

I'm not sure either if its something born with genetically or just something one gets when triggered like other diseases as Amanda mentioned.

I did read, however, that it can take somewhere between 10-20 years to manifest itself and that seems to be quite fitting.
Sending good wishes your way!

#8 janey


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Posted 17 July 2011 - 07:46 PM


Some studies have found a link between cancer and scleroderma even though more studies need to be done and more data collected. You could check out our Cancer and Scleroderma section.

My understanding is that with scleroderma our immune system is too fast, but, others have said, it works in reverse. Instead of fighting disease it actually attacks are tissues and increases inflammation in our bodies. Please do not think you can't catch a cold because you can and it can be dangerous. If you are on immune suppressing drugs, than your body doesn't fight disease very well. Once year I caught a cold and ended up in the hospital on a respiratory. So yes - we can and do get sick if we don't take care of ourselves and avoid exposure to people who are sick. So please don't let your guard down.
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#9 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 12:22 PM

Hi Georgie,

That's a great question you raise about immune systems prior to scleroderma. My overall impression -- but keep in mind, I'm not a doctor, I've had no medical training at all, and I don't remember an abstract on this topic alone -- is that scleroderma does not favor or disfavor people either healthy or sick people, prior to its onset. Some, like you, will enjoy perfect health before onset, while others have straggled along from one illness to another, and a good share fall in between the two extremes.

However, my guess is that those who were extremely healthy to begin with might garner a quicker diagnosis just because the change in their health is more startling than in someone who already has significant health issues to confuse the picture.

Also, it seems to me that those who made a rapid transition from total health to scleroderma have a more difficult time coming to terms with the illness emotionally. It's easier to adjust if you've been aware for years that your health isn't perfect, and you've already been forced to accommodate illness in some way or another, and to consider issues like disability and such ahead of time. Then again, the totally healthy ones had an opportunity, at least theoretically, to eek more out of life prior to getting very sick or disabled.

Unfortunately, after developing scleroderma there is an increased risk of certain cancers, and scleroderma complications plus medications that suppress the immune system can wreak havoc on our susceptibility to common illnesses, with special concerns for any ailment that affects the lungs (even the common cold). So, rejoice in the past health you enjoyed, and use every reasonable precaution for avoiding other illnesses in the future, and keeping on top of any cancer screenings your doctor recommends. No need to panic, of course, simply to be a bit more cautious and a bit less death-defying!

Warm Hugs,

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#10 Lynnie


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Posted 18 July 2011 - 02:18 PM

Hi There

I can only agree with the previous posts here, I got a simple winter cold and I took 4 months and numerous courses of heavy duty antibiotics to quell it and recover; it was no fun at all. I landed up with pneumonia, it was only found when I went for my annual lung function test this year that that was the case as they xrayed me and saw the scarring.

So please, please do not get lulled into thinking because our immune system is in over drive we will kill viruses etc Georgie, because in some cases we are even more vunerable and a simple cold can be very serious indeed. My advice if you fall sick with a so called minor infection or illness get help quickly.


#11 georgie1111


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Posted 18 July 2011 - 02:19 PM

Thanks everyone,

I think I can quite happily settle on the idea that it is not true that sclero acts as a defence to germs and cancer. What prompted my question was I had noted a few here with cancer and as I said I was either told or read somewhere that it was a defence not a contributor. It's sort of bad news, eh as it would be nice to think we at least could get some positive out of this sclero journey. But still have to say (I am not on immune suppressant drugs) that I still manage to avoid colds and flus, as all those around me fall sick with the sniffles I am the one left standing so must be just luck!! But will not be so cocky in the future thinking I am 'bullet proof' when it comes to colds and flus. :lol: :lol:

'Twas glad my little story gave some of you a chuckle re. me paying my brother to breathe on me to get his chicken pox so I could stay home from school, I never got over the fact I had wasted sixpence!! :lol:

Have a nice day