In the United States, systemic lupus erythematosus affects black women more frequently than people of any other race and sex. In past research of risk factors for lupus, which have mainly included white and Asian study participants, cigarette smoking has been linked with increased lupus risk, while moderate alcohol consumption has been linked with decreased risk.
Now, the largest study yet of lupus among black women, co-led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher, has uncovered findings consistent with these previous studies in other populations.
The study, published in the American College of Rheumatology’s journal Arthritis Care & Research, found the risk of lupus increased the more a woman smoked, while women who drank four or more alcoholic drinks per week saw a 57 percent decrease in lupus risk compared to women do did not drink alcohol.
“The identification of risk factors for lupus is especially important for black women because of their high risk of lupus,” says study co-first author Dr. Yvette Cozier, associate professor of epidemiology at BUSPH and a Boston University Slone Epidemiology Center faculty member. “Studies of other risk factors are in progress,” she says.
The investigators assessed data from the Black Women’s Health Study, a long-term, prospective follow-up study of 59,000 black women across the United States since 1995. A total of 127 new cases of lupus developed between 1995 and 2015.
Read more about this study.