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7 Celebrities With Lupus

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Flannery O’Connor

The great Southern novelist and short-story writer had her first attack of lupus in 1950, at age 25. In 1964, possibly due to the stress of surgery to remove a fibroid tumor, O’Connor’s lupus, which had been in remission, became active again. She died within months.

The writer’s father also had lupus. Close relatives of people with lupus have about a 5% risk of developing the disease themselves, a risk many times higher than for the general population. (An estimated 0.5% of the general population in the U.S. has lupus.) The tendency to develop lupus is carried in the genes, notes Isherwood, but other factors trigger the body’s autoimmune attack. Potential culprits include cigarette smoke, sunlight, stress, and certain infections.

Next: Barbara and George Bush’s dog Millie

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