Pernicious Anemia - Causes

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What causes pernicious anemia?

Pernicious anemia is considered to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body's own immune system mistakenly damages its own tissues. It is believed that the decreased absorption of vitamin B-12 from the gastrointestinal tract in pernicious anemia results from the presence of an autoantibody against intrinsic factor (IF), a protein made in the stomach that is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B-12. Normally, vitamin B-12 binds to intrinsic factor in the stomach, and this facilitates its absorption by the small intestine further along in the digestive process. Along with the autoimmune process that attacks the IF protein and lowers IF levels in stomach secretions, another autoimmune reaction against the stomach lining cells also occurs, resulting in a form of inflammation known as chronic atrophic gastritis.

Pernicious anemia is sometimes associated with other autoimmune diseases such as Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and vitiligo (depigmentation or blanching of skin areas).

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See what others are saying

Comment from: zoie, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

I wonder if it is possible to have pernicious anemia if you have been bulimic or anorexic. I think this condition could be made worse or masked by having one of the previous conditions mentioned. I had many of the PA symptoms before anorexia or bulimia but many more of the symptoms appeared when very ill with the anorexia.

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Comment from: soccermaniac, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 27

I got my pernicious anemia from not eating enough animal protein. This causes you not to absorb your B12, you lose your intrinsic factor. I have to eat liver for the rest of my life, maybe two or three times a week. I didn"t eat liver for a while and I got a very bad stomach. Also I am gluten and lactose intolerant.

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