Population-based research study shows increase in lupus disease rates
New research shows the incidence and prevalence of lupus, classified using EULAR/ACR criteria, in Olmsted County, Minnesota has increased over the last four decades. Incidence of lupus was higher in certain racial and ethnic groups, and occurrence of the disease increased rapidly in the general population. Both prevalence and incidence rates can reveal important trends in disease occurrence. While prevalence includes all cases, both new and preexisting, in the population at a specific time, incidence is limited to new cases only.
Lupus Midwest Network researchers used the population-based study to examine incidence, prevalence, and mortality trends of lupus over four decades (1976-2018) in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Over a period of 43 years, incidence of lupus increased 2% per year in men and women and across various age groups. Over a 60% increase in lupus incidence was observed in women, and a sixfold increase was seen in men (from 0.55 lupus cases to 3.18 lupus cases per 100,000 people). Lupus incidence was higher in racial and ethnic minorities than in non-Hispanic white people. An increase in lupus prevalence was also noted per 100,000 people (from 30.65 in 1985 to 97.4 in 2015). The researchers found no evidence that the severity of lupus has changed over time.
Rising rates of lupus, which disproportionately impacts people of color, may at least be partially explained by the increasing ethnic and racial diversity of the US population. According to U.S. Census data, the population of non-Hispanic white people continues to decrease from 63.7% to 57.8% in 2020. Learn more about risk factors for developing lupus.