Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is Lupus Genetic?

Dear Carla,
My mother passed away from Lupus and connective tissue disease. I was wondering if Lupus was hereditary. Thanks


Thanks for writing in.
I'm so sorry you lost your Mom to lupus.
Not everyone realizes how serious lupus can be.

A lot of research has been and is still being done to attempt to identify a lupus gene.
According to blogger Iris (below in comments section), "The John Curtin Medical Research Institute at ANU has found the gene behind lupus.  They named it "roquin" after the patron saint of plague victims. Normal roquin leads to a healthy immune system, mutated roquin is the cause of autoimmune diseases, including lupus. "

(Thank you Iris for the info!).

However, genes alone do not create lupus. According to the National Institute for Health, "In studies of identical twins—who are born with the exact same genes—when one twin has lupus, the other twin has a 24-percent chance of developing it. This and other research suggests that genetics plays an important role, but it also shows that genes alone do not determine who gets lupus..."

And according to the Lupus Foundation of America, only 10% of people with lupus will have a close relative who has lupus or may develop lupus. That's not a strong case for lupus being genetic.

The next question is: why are these genes mutated? Does it happen at conception or are they damaged during our lifetime? Looks like from the identical twin study we are not born a ticking lupus time bomb- something else has to come into the equation.

Some forward-thinking doctors (such as Mercola, Oz, Hyman) believe that genetics "load the gun" but it's lifestyle that "pulls the trigger." In other words, there may be more potential in a certain family to develop a particular disease, but that disease will only occur if enough challenges are presented to the body (for example, stress, poor diet, pollution, radiation, trauma, accidents, poor sleep, lack of community or good relationships, lack of joy, lack of meaning and purpose in life).

Only 1% of diseases are purely genetic. Meaning if your parents had the disease, you will definitely get it. Only 1%. That's good news, because that means most of the diseases you hear about, including lupus, can be turned around somewhat, or even completely, by lifestyle changes.

I was diagnosed with lupus in 1993. I had severe lupus, with kidney failure, congestive heart failure, anemia, stroke, and all the weakness exhaustion and hair loss that go along with it all. I was helped back to strength by medication but then, unlike many lupus patients, I was able to get off the medication and totally reclaim my health. I did so by making drastic changes in both my line of work and my diet (I am gluten free and dairy free and no artificial sweeteners or MSG, and I eat a lot of vegetables).

In short, if your mother had lupus, even severe fatal lupus, it is not inevitable that you will too. But you will need to make conscious healthy choices to avoid illness. Genetic tendencies run in families, but so do lifestyles and so do food allergies. I'd suggest you check out a few books on lupus, some of which may be available at your local library.

The Lupus Recovery Diet, Jill Harrington
Super Immunity Solution, Joel Fuhrman (not lupus book, but a wellness/ nutrition book)
How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This (my book)
Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal (you can download this book for free at It's not a lupus book; it's just about nutrition)

Any of these will give you some ideas on how you can use your kitchen and other choices to keep and even improve your current health.

I wish you all the best!

Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Speaker, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer - Carla's book "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?"