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Who Gets Sarcoidosis in the General Population?

Anyone can get sarcoidosis. It occurs in all races and in both sexes. Nevertheless, the risk is greater if you are a young black adult, especially a black woman, or are of Scandinavian, German, Irish, or Puerto Rican origin. No one knows why.

Because sarcoidosis can escape diagnosis or be mistaken for several other diseases, we can only guess at how people are affected. The best estimate today is that about 5 in 100,000 white people in the United States have sarcoidosis. Among black people, it occurs more frequently, in probably 40 out of 100,000 people.

Overall, there appear to be 20 cases per 100,000 in cities on the East Coast and somewhat fewer in rural locations. Some scientists, however, believe that these figures greatly underestimate the percentage of the U.S. population with sarcoidosis.

Sarcoidosis mainly affects people between 20 to 40 years of age. White women are just as likely as white men to get sarcoidosis, but black women get sarcoidosis twice as often as black men.

Sarcoidosis also appears to be more common and more severe in certain geographic areas. It has long been recognized as a common disease in Scandinavian countries, where it is estimated to affect 64 out of 100,000 people. But is was not until the mid-1940's when a large number of cases were identified during mass chest x-ray screening for the Armed Forces that its high prevalence was recognized in North America.

Although sarcoidosis can rarely occur in families, there is no evidence that sarcoidosis is passed from parents to children.

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