Lupus Causes

What Triggers Lupus?  What are the Risk Factors?

Lupus is a complex disease, and the exact cause is unknown. But researchers do know a few things about lupus.

They know that lupus is an autoimmune condition, which means your immune system turns against itself and attacks healthy tissues. Lupus is characterized by inflammation at various parts of your body that may cause damage to organs and tissues. When autoantibodies are present in your body, that means something is wrong: Antibodies protect us, but when you have an autoimmune disorder—such as lupus—your body creates these autoantibodies such as the antinuclear antibody (ANA).

Researchers also know that there seems to be a genetic predisposition to lupus and these genes may appear in certain families. They think that there is a combination of environmental and genetic triggers that cause lupus in people who have a predisposition to it.

What Triggers Lupus?
Below are what researchers have identified as possible lupus triggers.

  • Environment: UVA and UVB light from the sun or fluorescent lights, infections, viruses, smoking, and physical stress (eg, pregnancy) may trigger lupus.
  • Hormones: It’s thought that estrogen plays a role in lupus, especially considering lupus is most common in women who are in their childbearing years.
  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as isoniazid, hydralazine, and procainamide, can cause drug-induced lupus erythematosus.

Lupus Risk Factors
Researchers have identified some risk factors that may play a role in lupus. Having a combination of these risk factors may make it more likely that you develop lupus.

  • Gender: Women are more likely to develop lupus than men. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, “about 9 out of 10 adults who have lupus are women.”1
  • Age: Most people who are diagnosed with lupus are between 15 and 45 years old.1
  • Ethnicity: African American, Latina, Asian, and Native American women are most at risk of getting lupus.1

Remember:  Many Factors Play a Role in Lupus
Although the exact cause of lupus isn’t known, researchers are working hard to better understand this disease and the effect it has on the body. Also, it’s important to remember that even if lupus runs in your family, that isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get it.


Updated on: 11/19/15
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Lupus Diagnosis