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Lupus Is Not a Simple Disease


Updated June 27, 2014

4 of 9

Part 4 of 9 - What Causes Lupus?

The cause of lupus is unknown. There is no cure, but in most cases lupus can be managed. Lupus does seem to run in families, which suggests a genetic component. But, genetics does not provide a full explanation. Symptoms may triggered by:

  • the environment
  • sunlight
  • stress
  • certain medicines

People who have similar genetic backgrounds may not get signs or symptoms of the disease. Researchers are trying to find out why one person develops lupus while another does not.

Anyone Can Get Lupus

Nine out of 10 people who have lupus are women. Lupus is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 44. Scientists think hormones may have something to do with getting lupus. But, men and older people also can get it. African American women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women. It's also more common in Hispanic/Latino, Asian, and American Indian women.

Both African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more symptoms at diagnosis. They also tend to have more severe disease than whites. For example, African Americans have more seizures and strokes, while Hispanic/Latinos have more heart problems. It is not fully understood why some people seem to have more problems than others.

It is less common for children under age 15 to have lupus. One exception though -- babies born to women with lupus. These children may have heart, liver, or skin problems caused by lupus. With good care, most women with lupus can have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.

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