People with lupus who tested positive for three or more different lupus autoantibodies have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study. Overall, people with lupus had a 37% lower risk of breast cancer than the general population. Testing positive for specific autoantibodies (known as anti-dsDNA, anti-La and lupus anticoagulant) was also linked to lower breast cancer risk. Autoantibodies are made by the immune system and attack the body’s own cells.
However, cancer risk also varied by race. While non-African-American people with lupus had a 71% lower risk of breast cancer compared to non-African-American people without the disease, risk of breast cancer among African-American people with lupus did not significantly differ from African-Americans in the general public. African Americans with lupus also had a heightened risk of cancers associated with human papilloma virus (HPV), particularly cancers of the cervix and vagina/vulva. Meanwhile, non-African Americans with lupus showed an increased risk of thyroid cancer.
Thus, while testing positive for multiple autoantibodies may confer cancer protection, it remains unclear how racial differences may play a role in cancer risk as well. More research is needed.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.