The chances of developing lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE) are higher in people who:
- Are female.
- Are black.
- Are between the ages 15 and 45.
- Have a family history of lupus.
- Take medicines that are associated with drug-induced systemic lupus.
Results from studies are mixed on the effect that the hormone estrogen has on a woman's risk of lupus or of having lupus flares. For example, while most women do not have symptom flares during pregnancy, when a woman has a high level of estrogen, a few women do have flares during pregnancy. And although most women develop lupus when they are age 15 to 45, when estrogen levels are higher, a number of women develop lupus after menopause, when estrogen levels are low.
People wonder whether the hormones estrogen and progesterone cause lupus because these hormones are at much higher levels in women and women are much more likely to get lupus. Hormones, including hormones used for hormone replacement therapy or birth control, don't cause lupus. But they may have some effect on it. Birth control pills have low levels of hormones, and do not appear to make lupus worse. In fact, hormone levels are much higher during pregnancy than they are when a woman takes birth control pills. Later in life, the decision about taking hormone replacement is made by each woman and her doctor, based on her lupus and other factors.
Some research suggests smoking may increase the risk of getting lupus.
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