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Arthritis Today

Sjögren’s Syndrome Causes

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The cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown. Researchers think that a combination of environmental and genetic factors determines who develops the disease. While there are certain genes that increase a person’s risk for Sjögren’s syndrome, the genes do not act alone. It is believed that in order for a person to develop Sjögren’s, the immune system must be activated by some sort of trigger – such as a viral or bacterial infection – that sends the immune system into overdrive.

Evidence also suggests that if a relative has Sjögren’s syndrome, a person has a higher risk for it. In fact, about 12 percent of people with it have one or more relatives with the disease.

It's also common for relatives of people with Sjögren’s syndrome to develop other types of autoimmune disease such as lupus or hypothyroidism.

While there isn’t yet a concrete answer as to why Sjögren’s syndrome affects women more often than men, researchers believe the hormone estrogen might play a role. A major risk factor for developing Sjögren’s syndrome is being a post-menopausal woman. Estrogen levels in the body drop after menopause.  

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