Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system mistakes the body's own tissues as foreign invaders and attacks them. Some people with lupus suffer only minor inconvenience. Others suffer significant lifelong disability.
Lupus affects people of African, Asian, or Native American descent three times as often as it affects whites. Nine out of 10 people with lupus are women. The disease usually strikes between age 15 and 45, although it can occur in older individuals.
The number of people who have lupus varies
widely among different countries and among different populations within
countries. Lupus is present in as many as 1 out of every 250 black women; it is
present in 1 out of every 1,000 white women.2 Lupus
occurs more often in Hispanic, Native American, and Asian people than in
Lockshin MD (2008). Systemic lupus erythematosus. In
DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 15,
chap. 4. New York: WebMD.
Hellmann DB, Imboden JB Jr (2008). Systemic lupus
erythematosus section of Arthritis and musculoskeletal disorders. In LM Tierney
et al., eds., Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment,
47th ed., pp. 725-729. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
May 7, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 07, 2010
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