A Combination of Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors is Linked to Reduced Lupus Risk in Women
According to new research in lupus, a disease traditionally thought to be due to mainly genetic risk factors, women could potentially cut their risk of the disease in half by following several healthy lifestyle behaviors.
Researchers assessed 185,962 women, including 203 women with lupus, and used the Healthy Lifestyle Index Score (HLIS) to measure how healthy the participants’ lifestyles were. Compared to women with zero or one positive lifestyle factor, those with at least four of the following healthy lifestyle factors had the lowest lupus risk:
- No history of smoking or no smoking for more than four years
- Not being overweight or obese
- Moderate alcohol consumption
- Healthy diet
- Regular exercise
The study found that healthier lifestyle scores were associated with a lower risk of lupus overall – risk dropped 19% for each additional healthy lifestyle factor. The researchers also concluded that, for women who may already be at risk of developing lupus, adhering to healthy behaviors could reduce their risk by up to 47.7%.
Notably, better HLIS scores were also associated with a lower risk of dsDNA positive lupus, a more severe sub-type of lupus characterized by testing positive for anti-double stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibodies. These dsDNA antibodies are one of a group of self-attacking antinuclear antibodies (ANA).
“This study sends an important public health message that we should be promoting an overall healthy lifestyle to prevent the development of lupus.” says Dr. May Choi, a Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Awardee with the Lupus Foundation of America and primary investigator of the study.
More research is needed to fully understand the connection between lifestyle and lupus risk. For those living with lupus today, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important way to feel your best. From quitting smoking and managing stress to focusing on diet and exercise, explore the Lupus Foundation of America’s many resources on living with lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America supported Dr. Choi’s earlier lupus research through its’ Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award. Click here to learn more about the Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Award and here to learn more about Dr. Choi’s work.