Anyone can get lupus. But women are about nine times more prone to develop lupus as compared to men. Women, especially from African-American origin, are more susceptible to develop lupus in comparison to white women. Lupus is more reported in people within the age group of 16-45 years. People having a family history of lupus develop lupus more commonly. Read more about lupus.
Researchers believe that a combination of some inside, as well as outside factors like hormones, genetics or environmental factors, leads to the development of lupus. However, the exact cause is still unknown.
Lupus is an autoimmune condition which is caused by a complex combination of all the factors together. Some people have inherited genes that make them more susceptible to develop lupus.
Doctors often ask about family history of lupus when a person shows early signs and symptoms. They are asked whether they have a family member with lupus or any other autoimmune disorder. Read about symptoms and signs of lupus. Researchers found a link between lupus and cluster of genes.
Following are the main causes of lupus:
The genetic makeup of some people makes them more susceptible to lupus. More than 50 genes have been identified that are associated with lupus. However, most of these genes do not directly cause lupus but contribute in some or the other way. For instance, there are 25% chances that identical twins of a person with lupus will develop this disease.
In most of the cases, genes are not enough. An environmental condition in which a person is raised also plays a major role. Lupus can also develop in people with no family history of it but when there is some other autoimmune disease.
The knowledge of genes associated with lupus is still growing. Following are the genes that cause lupus:
Studies suggest that environmental agents like a virus or any chemical may trigger this disease in a genetically susceptible person. Environmental factors are said to trigger lupus but causes of flares are still unknown.
Though specific environmental agents have not been identified, some of the common triggers are:
Apart from above-mentioned factors, physical stress like physical harm, pregnancy or surgery may also initiate lupus-like symptoms.
Hormones are messengers present in the body that regulate many functions. It is seen that women are nine times more vulnerable to develop lupus as compared to men. The reason behind this can be explained by sex hormones and relative strength of immune system in males and females.
The female body generates estrogen as a sex hormone while male body produces androgens as a sex hormone. Estrogens are known as "immune-enhancer" which strengthens the immune system. Thus the immune system of females is stronger as compared to males. For this reason, the incidences of lupus are more reported in females.
The level of estrogen somehow regulates the severity of lupus. However, no causal effect of the hormone is seen in pregnant women or in women taking birth control pills.
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