According to two new studies funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Manhattan Lupus Surveillance Program and the California Lupus Surveillance Project, Asian, Black, and Hispanic women all are disproportionately affected by this disease.
Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to turn against itself, tends to strike women that are of childbearing age the most. If it goes untreated, the disease can lead to complete renal failure.
To gather their data, these studies relied on CDC-supported lupus registries that have been collecting information since 2004. But these registries only focus on white and black sufferers, so the Manhattan and California studies set out to get more of a diverse approach to study Hispanics and Asians.
The studies showed that not only do the minority patients tend to have a higher rate of the disease, but also that their diagnoses are actually worse than their white counterparts.
For perspective, renal disease was present in 53.2% of Asians, 50.7% of Blacks, and 49.7% of Hispanics; however, only 25.4% of whites suffered from a renal disease of some sort.
Many doctors say that lupus is especially challenging because it is hard to diagnose. Many of the symptoms are similar to that of other ailments; for example, sleep and joint pain. But considering that about 60 million Americans suffer from sleep deprivation of some kind, doctors tend to get confused. Plus, joint pain is common for people of all shapes and sizes. And since knee joint pain is the second most common type of chronic pain, doctors tend to prescribe physical therapy.
Not to mention the fact that no one knows exactly the culprit behind lupus. Doctors and researchers have been able to identify more than 60 genes that tend to put people at a higher risk of developing the disease, but environmental factorshave also been known to play a role. For example, organic pollutants, exposure to radiation, and even some viral infections can all trigger the onset of the disease.
Fortunately, these aren’t the only two studies focusing on lupus and renal disease. The National Institutes of Health is currently funding a study that looks into the early identification of disease. Their specific study will look at people with specific blood-based indicators that could lead to contacting lupus down the line. So then once the doctors are able to determine if there are one or two symptoms that suggest lupus, the NIH will be able to figure out the difference in the factors in hopes to preemptively diagnose.