Disease Fears

A reader wonders if their father’s disease is hereditary. 


My father died when I was a child and I have just discovered he suffered from Addison’s Disease. Is it hereditary?


Addison’s Disease is rare (one in 100,000), occurs at any age and affects both genders. It causes weight loss, weakness, fatigue, low blood pressure and often, darker skin.

The adrenal glands fail to produce adequate levels of the hormone cortisol, which affects nearly all of the body, especially the response to stress.

Most cases (70 per cent) follow slow destruction of the adrenal glands by the body’s immune system. Relatives can share a tendency towards autoimmune disease.

Tuberculosis accounts for about 20 per cent of cases and would have been a more frequent cause prior to the end of World War II.

The remaining 10 per cent are due to very rare conditions – some of which run in families but these usually appear in early childhood and are most unlikely in your father.

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