Who Gets Lupus?
To date, there are no known exact causes for lupus, and also no cure. As there are no exact causes known, the disease can not be limited to specific individuals. However, there are certain correlations and risk factors that put certain individuals at a higher risk for the development of lupus.
Lupus: Risk Factors
While it is suspected that no one cause for lupus exists, there are certain risk factors that are associated with an increased risk for the development of lupus. It is assumed that the development of lupus is due to an array of circumstances, including genetic and environmental factors.
Lupus can affect individuals of all ages, including infants (neonatal lupus). However, lupus is most commonly diagnosed in teenagers and adults ranging in ages from 15-45.
Preliminary studies have shown that individuals that work in careers involving the presence of silica and mercury show an increased risk for the development of lupus.
Epstein-Barr Viral Infection
This is a common virus that infects many individuals without notice. It has symptoms that are nonspecific, including sore throat and fever. However, upon infection, the virus can remain dormant for years until conditions are correct for reactivation. While the exact reasons behind the connections remain unknown, there is an increased risk between Epstein-Barr viral infections and lupus.
While lupus is not considered to be a hereditary disease, it is more commonly diagnosed if the individual has relatives with the disease. It is thought that while certain individuals have a higher genetic susceptibility to the development of lupus, that a certain trigger is necessary for activation of the disease. To date, preliminary studies have identified several genes that seem to hold promising results as to the genetic factors involved with the development of systemic lupus.
Long term use of certain prescription medications are associated with the development of lupus. These drugs typically include high blood pressure medications, tuberculosis medications, antipsychotic medications, and various others. However, this is a small percentage.
The prevalence of lupus has been associated with higher rates in specific races. Lupus is more commonly diagnosed in Asians and African Americans.
Lupus is more commonly diagnosed in women than men. It is thought that the development of lupus may be connected to hormonal imbalances and fluctuations, especially Estrogen. It is also more commonly diagnosed in women of child bearing age.
Over exposure of sunlight causing skin damage can cause the development of lupus. There still remains much research to be completed to determine the direct connections between ultraviolet radiation and the development of lupus. It is assumed that the connections between sunlight and lupus development has to do with skin damage at the cellular level. Over exposure to sunlight is responsible for the presence of certain proteins on the surface of the skin. Antibodies attach to these proteins, which is cause for an inflammatory response. When skin cells are damaged, especially with individuals with lupus, this creates a condition where more skin cells die in higher amounts and with higher frequencies. This leads to more inflammation.