The epidemiology of the systemic vasculitides varies greatly according to the type of vasculitis and the patient's age, sex, and geographical location.[4] Particular forms of vasculitis seem to affect specific populations. For example, granulomatosis with polyangiitis is more common among northern Europeans, while microscopic polyangiitis, a closely related form of systemic vasculitis, is typically found among people of southern European descent.[5] This suggests that the risk of developing specific types of vasculitis is not shared equally among all populations, but the reasons (e.g., environmental exposures or genetic milieu) remain unclear. For example, the possibility that environmental toxins may lead to an increased prevalence of some forms of vasculitis has been suggested but is difficult to prove.[6]

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