• Risk Factors for Scleroderma

    A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
    It is possible to develop scleroderma with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing scleroderma. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
    Factors that can increase your risk of developing scleroderma include:

    Age

    The morphea type of scleroderma usually strikes people around 20-40 years old. Systemic scleroderma, limited or diffuse, is more likely to occur in people aged 30-50 years old.

    Gender

    Women are 3-4 times more likely as men to develop scleroderma.

    Genetic Factors

    People who have family members with autoimmune diseases have an increased likelihood of developing scleroderma.

    Ethnic Background

    Young African-American women have a higher rate of scleroderma and tend to have more severe forms of the disease. Choctaw Native Americans in Oklahoma have an extremely high rate of scleroderma.

    Environmental Factors

    A number of environmental exposures, like coal mining and gold mining, seem to increase the risk of scleroderma. Other factors include being exposed to:
    • Industrial fumes
    • Polyvinyl chloride (used in the plastics industry)
    • Silica dust
    • Epoxy resins
    • Benzene
    • Toluene
    • Trichloroethylene
    • Pentazocine
    • Bleomycin
    • Aniline-contaminated rapeseed oil (used for cooking)
    • Organic solvents
    • Pesticide exposure
    • Hair dyes
    • Cocaine
    • Radiation therapy

    References

    Braunwald E. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2001.

    Ferri F, ed. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2011. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2010.

    Firestein E, Kelley W. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.

    Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Textbook of Internal Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.

    Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2004.

    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/ .

    Noble J, Greene H. Textbook of Primary Care Medicine. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1996.

    Rakel R. Textbook of Family Medicine 2007. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2009.

    Rakel R, Bope E. Conn's Current Therapy. 60th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2009.

    Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at: http://www.scleroderma.org/ .

    Sleisenger M, Feldman M, Friedman L, Brandt L. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2005.

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