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Scleroderma Risk Factors

Who’s at the highest risk of developing scleroderma?

Unfortunately, the exact causes of scleroderma are unknown. The research that’s been done suggests that, like many rheumatic and autoimmune diseases, it stems from a problem with our immune systems.

But we do know who is at a higher risk of developing scleroderma:

  • Gender: It’s much more common in women than men. As many as 80 percent of those diagnosed with scleroderma are women.
  • Age: Most localized types of scleroderma show up before age 40, and systemic types of scleroderma are typically diagnosed between ages 30 and 50.
  • Race: localized types of scleroderma are more common in people of European descent than in African-Americans. Choctaw Native Americans and African-Americans have a higher risk of the systemic form of scleroderma than people of European descent.
  • Environmental exposure: Some environmental influences can put people at greater risk for developing scleroderma. Men exposed to silica appear to have a higher risk for developing scleroderma. Being around certain solvents and taking certain drugs can also increase your potential for developing the disease.

Genes and Scleroderma

Genetics plays a role in the disease, but it is not passed on from parents to children, and it’s rare for immediate family members of those with scleroderma to get it. It is common for family members, however, to have other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

More Information About Scleroderma in the Health Library

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