Researchers are studying two major questions: Who gets lupus and why? At least 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus, or approximately 1 in 185 people. It is extremely difficult to estimate how many people in the United States have the disease, because lupus symptoms vary widely and its onset is often hard to pinpoint. These factors make diagnosing lupus extremely difficult. People are often diagnosed with other “overlap” diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other connective tissue disorders before receiving a lupus diagnosis. According to one recent Michigan study, lupus may be twice as common as previous estimates suggested. Here are some things we do know about lupus:
- Many more women than men have lupus (studies suggest that 90% of those diagnosed are women), although there are still many men living with lupus.
- Lupus is two to three times more likely to occur in women of African America, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American descent than it is in Caucasian women.
- Those of African American and Hispanic descent are also more likely to have serious organ system involvement.
- The question of genetic involvement comes up often because lupus can run in families. That being said, the risk is quite low that a child or sibling of a patient will also develop lupus.