Although the etiology of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) remains to be fully elucidated, it is now apparent that multiple genetic and environmental factors are at play. Because lupus has a strong female preponderance, several studies have examined the role of female hormones in disease etiology. Yet this knowledge has not helped to explain lupus etiology or to prevent it. Estrogens exist not only as natural or drug compounds, but also as environmental chemical contaminant and women are highly exposed to all of them. Estrogenic activity has been found in a number of pesticides including pyrethroids that are largely used in the household. Although there is only a small amount of published data examining a possible causal relationship between lupus and pesticides it can be hypothesized that pesticides, in particular insecticides, through their estrogenic activity and capacity to induce oxidative stress provoke autoimmune reaction influencing lupus development.
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