Fast Facts about Lupus

You know you’re not alone — though it sure can feel like it sometimes. What are the facts about who has lupus?

Learn the facts about the prevalence of lupus and important differences for people of different ages and races.

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1.5 Million Americans have lupus according to estimates by the Lupus Foundation of America, with 16,000 new cases reported annually. That means that about 1 in 200 people in the United States has the disease. Worldwide, the LFA estimates that at least five million people may have some form of lupus. Of the people diagnosed, 70% of lupus cases are systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Cutaneous lupus, which affects only the skin, and drug-induced lupus, where symptoms are only present when certain medications are taken, each account for 10 percent of lupus cases.


1 person in every 200 Americans has lupus
There are 16,000 new cases of lupus reported every year


What difference does sex make?

You may have heard lupus referred to as a woman’s disease. While this is not true (both men and woman can develop lupus), 90% of people diagnosed with the disease are women. This number is consistent, if not perfectly mirrored, in studies done in the United States and in the United Kingdom. The UK study suggested that females are seven times more likely to have lupus than men; a version done in the United States revealed a broader range, with women being six to ten times more likely to develop lupus.

And what about age?

A study published in 2014 examined medical records from 1,898 Chinese, lupus inpatients from 15 hospitals. The patients were categorized by their age at the onset of symptoms. Based on this study, patients were most likely to develop onset between the ages of 18 and 45.

Age of Onset ≤18 >18 and ≤45 >45
Number of Patients 259 1444 195
% of Patients 13.6% 76.1% 10.3%

While additional research is necessary, there were noted differences in the disease depending on the age at which it developed. Of note, it was found that when symptoms appeared later in life, their were higher comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of multiple chronic diseases).

Race and ethnicity?

There does seem to be an impact of race and ethnicity on both the development of lupus and the prognosis. Lupus is 2 to 3 times more prevalent among women of color as compared to Caucasian women. This includes African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. An analysis of hospital and mortality records also concluded that African Americans have a 2 to 3 times higher lupus mortality risk than Caucasians. The authors of the study suggest that this is due to a lupus-specific biological factor.

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