July 11, 2011

What Causes Lupus?

No one knows what causes lupus. Scientists think that people are born with the genes to develop lupus and that something brings on or "triggers" the disease and symptoms. However, a combination of genetics (heredity), environment, and hormones is involved. Learn more about the factors that may cause of lupus.

No gene or group of genes has been proven to cause lupus. Lupus does, however, appear in certain families, and when one of two identical twins has lupus, there is an increased chance that the other twin will also develop the disease. These findings, as well as others, strongly suggest that genes are involved in the development of lupus.

Check out research summaries about lupus and genetics.

While a person’s genes may increase the chance that he or she will develop lupus, it takes some kind of environmental trigger to set off the illness or to bring on a flare. Examples may include:
  • ultraviolet rays 
  • an infection
  • a cold or a viral illness
  • exhaustion
  • an injury
  • emotional stress, such as a divorce, illness, death in the family, or other life complications
  • anything that causes stress to the body, such as surgery, physical harm, pregnancy, or giving birth

Check out a previous webchat with Dr. Mark Gourley about Environmental Factors in Lupus.

In addition, check out Lupus Triggered by More Than the Outdoors from the Summer 2011 issue of Lupus Now Magazine.

In particular, the sex hormone estrogen plays a role in lupus. Men and women both produce estrogen, but estrogen production is much greater in females. Many women have more lupus symptoms before menstrual periods and/or during pregnancy, when estrogen production is high. This may indicate that estrogen somehow regulates the severity of lupus. However, it does not mean that estrogen, or any other hormone for that matter, causes lupus.

Want more details? Visit www.lupus.org/understanding to read more about lupus.


Kara (Sisyphean Effort) said...

I read a great blurb hypothesizing that eating cereal grains have triggered the autoimmune response in our bodies. If you think of it- until man was able to process grains our diet really was meat, fruits, nuts, etc. Because of eating this substance that our body wasn't made for, our immune system adapted to attack it, and, eventually, it began attacking other things to.
Of course, just a hypothesis, but still really interesting considering the number of people who are gluten-intolerant and have lupus.

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with Lupus about 28years ago, when I was about 11 years old. My grandmother and Aunt both were diagnosed with it and never got treated for it and have since passed away from illnesses. I have since found out the I have 2cousins that also have Lupus and I often wondered about my 18 year old daughter who gets the butterfly rash a lot. So I do believe it runs in the family blood lines. God Bless, Angie Whitson, Kingwood Texas