Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lupus and Genetics (Guest Blogger)

Written by Jenna Walters
Lupus is a disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissue, causing inflammation and damage to the skin, kidneys, lungs, heart and blood. A normal, healthy immune system functions as a defense against viruses and bacteria, however, Lupus confuses the system so that it is unable to distinguish between healthy tissue and antigens. Lupus is prevalent in those of northern European descent, blacks and particularly in women aged 15 to 45.

Is Lupus Linked to Genetics?

Leading experts believe that genetics is a definite factor in the development of Lupus. The basic theory is people with Lupus often have a close relative with the disease, while a small percentage of children who are born to parents with the disease will inherit it. Furthermore, studies have shown genetic makeup plays a role in the disease, as Identical twins are more likely to be at risk for Lupus than fraternal twins are.

The Role of Genetic Research

Researchers have identified a number of genes that are associated with Lupus in women and continue to make breakthroughs with further studies for isolating other genes that are likely to cause the disease. Technology has enabled researchers to examine more closely the genetics of various ethnic groups and the way in which other factors as onset and complications of Lupus are predetermined by genetic variances.

In the future, scientists envision specific genetic clues that will reveal which conditions a patient is more likely to be at risk for as well as the correlation between Lupus genes and other autoimmune diseases. Much like a plethora of other diseases, such as peritoneal mesothelioma, there is no known cure for Lupus, though genetic research teams will soon be able to develop effective strategies for treating the disease and preventing systematic damage with debilitating complications.

Treating Lupus

Anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs and corticosteroids are commonly used drugs for controlling mild or moderate Lupus symptoms, while immunosuppressive medications are recommended for severe cases. In addition to drugs, doctors advise patients to take care of themselves to reduce the severity of symptoms by engaging in a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a balanced diet, protection from direct sunlight and reduction of stress.

Jenna Walters is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer interested in health and wellness. She is especially interested in touching people’s lives through her writing. Jenna also enjoys kayaking, hiking, and reading.

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