Is The Incidence Of Lupus, Disproportionately High Amongst Healthcare Professionals?

I've just had a couple of very rough days and rough, long nights, due to a nasty flare. I laid in bed thinking, which is what I always seem to end up doing at such times. A number of weeks ago, on another thread, someone made an off the cuff remark about the number of ex doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, who contribute, as sufferers, to this site. This got me thinking and wondering whether there is actually a higher incidence of Lupus/SLE amongst those of us who spent most or all of our working life in healthcare/medicine/psychiatry etc.

If there is, and to be honest I don't know whether there is or not, then the question is then: Why?

Were we all exposed to too many bugs etc which affected our immune systems? Were we all exposed to high levels of stress? Could it be the shifts many of us worked? Could it be a combination of such factors or something else? Are there any other professions which are over represented in Lupus/SLE statistics?

Lastly, has anyone seen or conducted any research into the aforementioned points?

What do you think and what are your observations? Thanks in anticipation.


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25 Replies

  • I think maybe it's a greater awareness of possible health issues. None of my family are in the health area but we have multiple generations of females with auto immune issues.

  • Thanks Puska,

    Are any or all of them in high stress professions?

  • Great post Tonk and it is interesting seeing a high number of health professionals on here with these illnesses!. I reckon stress has a lot to do with it as it can trigger the immune system if person has other risk factors as well. It would be interesting to do a research study from this forum !. X

  • Thanks Misty14,

    I find myself thinking along similar lines to yourself.

  • Hi Tonk,

    It is a very interesting question. I'm not sure whether there have been any studies specifically examining someone's profession and if it could be a contributing factor in the development of lupus.

  • Thanks Paul,

    Yeah, I wonder if other high stress professions are over represented too....Perhaps police/prison officers, soldiers, fire officers etc.

    Thanks for your reply.

  • I have SLE and was a nurse for many years,. What an interesting observation. It would be good to look into this.

  • Thank you.

  • Hi, I too a nurse for 30 years and SLE and Sjorgrens. (It would also appear Dyslexia as I wrote that line four times! or is it just brain fog ?). I wonder if it is a combination of awareness, hence a diagnosis when others are missed, long hours and stress, but also higher that usual contact with viruses, bacteria and other infections. I would believe it similar to teachers and chronic fatigue for example. Maybe we could do a short survey on here?

  • Thanks Johare,

    I spent most of my professional life in psychiatric nursing, mostly in secure forensic environments and prisons. I came into contact with many patients who had many different conditions and, all too often, very little idea about personal hygiene so yes, I agree with your observation about being "over exposed" to viruses, bacteria and infections. Obviously, the working environment was very often stressful because, that is the nature of the job with that client group.

    I remember having umpteen different vaccinations when I first went into the sector; I wonder if these contributed too.

    I too wonder about teachers, given that I often appear to get infections or colds after my grandchildren visit us, even though they don't come to our home if they have obvious symptoms of coughs or colds.

    Thanks for your reply.

  • There was an interesting link posted the other day about B cells and how they misinterpret healthy tissue. Whether the combination of the stress and then the higher exposure to these microscopic dangers, whether injected or environmental acts together as a trigger would be interesting to find out.

    Just as an aside. When my problems first started I was working as a community school nurse at the beginning of a vaccination campaign for children. My body has never recognised any immunisation I have been given and I have had them multiple times. As a precaution I was given the BCG twice as it didn't show.

    This isn't scare mongering as I am a strong believer in vaccinations, however, I do feel that shortly after, was the first time I was actually bedridden. I was 40.

  • Very interesting.

    I too am a staunch supporter of vaccination programmes however, I do worry sometimes, about expressing my thoughts about any possible connection between vaccinations and unwanted side affects. I am long since retired now but, I still feel "disloyal" to my former profession, should I question the current wisdom in relation to vaccination programmes.

    For example, my GP and specialist have again recommended I take up my seasonal flu jab because I am on a fairly high dose of steroids and also take immunosuppressants but, I have never had one without being ill shortly after having it. I know it is an inactive version of the virus but, I always seem to get ill shortly after having it.

    It may just be coincidence but, I am not sure.

    I wonder how many of us with SLE etc do have problems post receiving their seasonal flu jab.

  • I too know that this is illogical with the flu jab and we are told that we can get some side effects but I agree I also have become unwell and my arm reacted after, so Ive only had it once.

    I also after three years retired not only miss work althougth it was stressful, I do still feel guilty for not using my skills and saying I am retired at 54! Guilt/ stress pulls us all down. Maybe they should look at personality types?

  • The idea of looking at personality types may well be an interesting angle to investigate.

    I don't know if it's still the case but, when I did my training, (Late 1960s early 1970s) those of us who went into nursing, be that psychiatric or general, knew we were never going to be rich as a result of our chosen profession. We entered the profession because we wanted to and because we cared. I wonder if old school nurses were more caring and passionate about their vocation back then, if some of the horror stories we read on here are true.

    Perhaps we worry too much and it is that which leads to the problems we have, because we almost self inflict stress onto ourselves.


    Hello. I’ve been trying to trace back to when I began having symptoms (which doctors had been dismissing for years until the last two years). They begun after I received the series of HepB vaccinations that I was told I was required to have in order to continue to work for the Health Dept. There are no others in my family with SLE.

    I’ve just stumbled upon this site in my having started researching information (have had courses in research methods and statistics so I understand how to determine the validity of what I am reading), as I am I satisfied with the statements of ‘we don’t know what causes SLE.’ The above referenced article talks of a different type of and also talks of predisposition.

    I believe vaccinations in the past we’re for the right reasons, but that now it’s driven by big pharma and their growing wallets with the creation of vaccines for everything, even in veterinary medicine. No one should be shamed into, threatened with job loss/punishment or scared into taking a vaccination they do not want. I’m not starting a debate about vaccination so please don’t respond as if that is what this is about. If I’m now suffering due to the above received vaccine, that’s not ok. I’ll be fully looking into this and those who know me, know I’m relentless.

    That’s my two cents. Thanks for reading.

  • I remember I had to have some injections before a trip to Morocco some years back. Can't remember precisely what but think yellow fever? And something else. I was ill on the trip (reaction to the injections?) Don't know. But then for some years I seemed to feel that I was not absorbing nutrients from food. Never ever followed up on. Since then I have lost my sense of smell. Never investigated properly. Then some years later I found my dream job. Loved every minute of it before being outsourced when it turned into the most stressful job from hell. After a few years of the incredibly stressful job my body just stopped functioning. It's as if I had depleted all of my reserves. Then lupus was diagnosed. Never ever been in the family before but doctors seemed sure of genetic links.

    I think long periods of stress from whatever area of life take their toll. And illness results.

    For years I held the doctors up to be my best possible resource in terms of dealing with the vast number of complications that followed. But started to get impatient at the lack of positive answers other than to take more and more drugs with more and more side effects etc.

    My personal research led me to look more closely at diet and nutrition. I always felt I was following the guidelines.

    I now suspect that the guidelines may not be as well researched as they should be.

    Others may wish to undertake their own research as that may be your greatest ally. As Hippocrates said all that time ago.

  • Just read your pub med link.Its long been said that incidence of SLE is higher in certain ethnic groups. This is probably trying to show a genetic causal factor. But I too have my suspicions about vaccines these days and wonder about the possible on going effects of widescale vaccination programmes that us developed countries have inflicted on other countries. ??? I am not considered to be in one of those ethnic groups.

  • Ditto with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) & individuals in the 'healing/ caring' professions, Tonk. 😳

    Yes, "all of the above"! 😯

    Makes one think. 🤔 💭


    Related aside: Meant to post the following (here at 'Lupus UK') a while back but slipped mind. (Apologies. 🙏 )

    There's a physician, Dr. Brooke Goldner MD, who overcame Lupus & shares what has worked for her & her patients.

    If this interests you, kindly see: Dr. Brooke Goldner's Free 3-Day Webinar, '6 Steps to Reversing Autoimmune Disease with Supermarket Foods': August 3/Thu, 7/Mon, 10/Thu 2017:

    [Lots of overlap with other processes & may be of help to anyone interested in such things. 🙏 ]

    Wishing you the very best, Tonk & all. 🙏 🍀 🌺 🌞

    Kind regards, ☺️




    Oh, as for flu jabs, this post may be of interest: Could a virus be "involved" in your RA?


  • Thanks Kai,

    Very interesting links. I shall read them more carefully when I'm feeling in a little less pain. My mouth, chest and wrists/hands are all giving me major problems today.

  • No worries, Tonk. 😌 Take your time. 🙏 Hoping your mouth, chest, wrists/hands pain subside soon. ☺️ Take good care. 🙏 🍀 🌺 🌞

  • It would be interesting to find out. I worked in NHS prior to having to take medical reirement. I wouldn't be surprised if the shifts and stress contributed to me getting Lupus. I personally also wondered if because I was a NHS professional I had more insight and awareness of symptoms to report to my Drs, and whether I even got a "better" treatment from Drs than for example a stay at home mum who may have been told " everyone gets tired" and not taken as seriously

    I thought they had been some studies into this, and also into whether having the Hep B vaccination contributed to an increased risk ... sorry not well enough at moment to find links to this but I think there are studies and epidemiology about Lupus available

  • Many Thanks.......Hope you're feeling better soon.

  • An interesting thought.

  • I know this post is old but...for what it's worth this has occurred to me too. My very first symptoms of MCTD (tender finger joints) began within the same month of receiving a Hep A booster (which incidentally I think was given incorrectly as it was long overdue, I wasn't even at the GP for that, the nurse just said to have it and being young never questioned it, and didn't follow the protocol as I think if the first one is either live or not then you didn't need the second...anyway...) I also received the Hep B nursing shots as I am a psych nurse, and then worked in an acute ward, exposed to lots, became ill after working for about 18 months. This was 15 years ago...My manager also had lupus. Food for thought. Guess we will never know.

  • Thanks for the reply.

    It is very interesting and it would be good if major research body looked into it.

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