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What causes lupus?

No one knows what causes lupus. Your family history and things in your environment such as infections, viruses, toxic chemicals or pollutants (car fumes and factory smoke, for example) may play a role in causing the disease. Men and women of all ages and races get lupus. However, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with lupus are women. About 1.5 million Americans have lupus.

Lupus occurs most commonly in women of childbearing age (15 to 44). In the U.S., this disease occurs more frequently in African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans and Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders. Having family members with lupus also increases one's risk of getting this disease. Exposure to sunlight also can be a factor that increases risk in those with genes predisposed to the illness, although exactly why is not known. Additional risk factors include smoking, long-term use of certain medications, having Epstein-Barr virus, and extended exposure to silica, mercury and other chemicals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.