A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition. It is possible to develop systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing SLE.
SLE occurs mainly in women of childbearing age, generally between 15-45 years old.
Other factors that may increase your chance of SLE:
- Genetics—SLE in close relatives may increase the risk of SLE, although most will have no family history.
- Ethnicity—People of African American, Native American, Asian, or Hispanic descent have a higher risk of SLE.
Autoimmune disorders like SLE are most likely a combination of genetics and environmental factors. If someone has genetic factors the following environmental factors may trigger an abnormal immune response:
- Exposure to tobacco smoke, sunlight, or chemicals
- Bacterial and viral infections—Epstein-Barr virus, in particular, has been linked to SLE
Lupus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/default.asp. Updated May 2013. Accessed December 29, 2014.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 24, 2014. Accessed December 29, 2014.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/autoimmune_rheumatic_disorders/systemic_lupus_erythematosus_sle.html. Updated October 2013. Accessed December 29, 2014.
What are the risk factors for developing lupus? Lupus Foundation of America website. Available at:
http://www.lupus.org/answers/entry/risks-for-developing-lupus. Accessed December 29, 2014.
Last reviewed May 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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