Lupus is a complex autoimmune disorder affecting numerous bodily systems (Bernknopf, Rowley, & Bailey, 2011). The disease can manifest in clusters of symptoms that have been described as specific syndromes (Zandman-Goddard, Solomon, Rosman, Peeva, & Shoenfeld, 2012). Although there is no cure for the disease, the symptoms caused by lupus can be treated with medications (Bernkopf et al., 2011). There may be an environmentally imposed aspect of the disease in some patients that develop lupus (Zandman-Goddard et al., 2012).
Knowing the cause of a disease can increase our ability to understand and therefore treat the disease. Unfortunately, this is not possible with lupus. The exact cause of lupus is unknown, and while it is posited that there may be a genetic factor involved, no specific gene related to lupus has been identified (Lupus Foundation of America, 2012). Individuals with family members who have lupus or another autoimmune disorder are more likely to develop lupus, and twin studies show increased likelihood of developing lupus in one twin when the other has it (Lupus Foundation of America, 2012). Certain ethnic backgrounds demonstrate a greater frequency of lupus, including African, Native American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island ethnicities (Lupus Foundation of America, 2012). Although anyone can get the disease, research shows that lupus appears in these populations more frequently than in others.
The environmental aspect of lupus is related to the disease’s initial appearance, as well as the flare-ups the disease causes. For the disease to surface or flare up, there is exposure to some environmental catalyst that sets off a disease process (Lupus Foundation of America, 2012). ...
It is also believed that the hormone estrogen is implicated in lupus, as the symptoms of the disease often first manifest during pregnancy or childbirth and can flare up with the menstrual cycle (Lupus Foundation of America, 2012). Despite the identification of these common factors in the backgrounds of individuals who develop lupus, science has yet to pinpoint a cause or cure for the disease. Anyone can get lupus and it does not appear to manifest more in any geographic location than another (Lupus Foundation of America, 2012). Scientists do not believe the disease is caused by anything in the diet of the sufferer, and cannot definitively state whether pollution could play a role (Lupus Foundation of America, 2012). Some studies have linked lupus with cigarette smoking, vitamin D deficiency, and vaccines, but have still been unable to attribute cause to any one of these (Zandman-Goddard et al., 2012). According to the present epidemiological data available on the disease, systemic lupus erythematosus usually appears in adult women aged twenty to forty years (Bernknopf et al., 2011). Its prevalence ranges from 14.6 to 68 cases per 100,000 population (Bernknopf et al., 2011). It appears in African American women as many as three to four times as frequently as in Caucasian women (Bernknopf et al., 2011). Only 15-20% of lupus cases are diagnosed during childhood (Livingston, Bonner, & Pope, 2011). There are a variety of symptoms that a person with lupus may describe during their first bout of lupus. Fever, fatigue, and weight loss are common complaints (Bernknopf et al., 2011). The symptoms of lupus can also appear on the skin in the form of a rash or in the mouth as an