9 Celebrities With Lupus
What is lupus?
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. Symptoms vary from person to person and can include fatigue, joint pain, swelling, rashes, and fever. And since no two cases present exactly alike, lupus is notoriously misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, a virus, or something else. The condition can harm the skin, kidneys, heart, nervous system, blood cells, and more.
Despite being a disease doctors often miss lupus is actually quite common. About 1.5 million people in the United States have it—including these eight celebrities.
Though chemotherapy is best-known as a cancer treatment, it can also be used in rheumatology. The drugs (which are typically given at a lower dose) slow cell reproduction to control inflammation.
A positive test, which Lady Gaga might have been talking about, doesn’t mean you have lupusyou need to have symptoms, too. (And the pop diva told Larry she didn’t.) One in five women test positive for lupus-associated antibodies, but only about 10% have the autoimmune disease.
Braxton, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2008, tweeted in November 2011: "Lupus medication actually causes most women to gain weight. But we’re still fabulous! I’m going to work it on out."
Corticosteroidsone of the mainstays of lupus treatmentcan indeed promote weight gain. Still, exercise can help people with lupus manage their weight and will also improve their quality of life, Isherwood says.
The scars on the singer’s face are the result of discoid lupus erythematosus, a type of lupus involving only the skin. Discoid lupus typically causes sores on the face and scalp but can affect the skin anywhere on the body. It can also cause hair loss. People with discoid lupus are often sensitive to ultraviolet light, and need to be careful about sun exposure.
Ten percent of people with discoid lupus will go on to develop systemic lupus, Isherwood says, although it’s possible these individuals already had the illness but just weren’t diagnosed.
Rapper Snoop Dogg’s daughter, Cori Broadus, first showed symptoms of lupuslightening of her skin, hair loss, and dramatic weight lossat age six, in 2005. According to a family profile published in People in 2010, Cori is now playing softball and volleyball, doing well in school, and taking several medications to keep the illness under control. "I can’t stay in the sun long, but I feel good most of the time," she told the magazine.
The disease was attacking Raines’ kidneys, throwing off the normal balance of water and salt in his body. His case was severe, but he improved with radiation therapy and medication. Raines even went back to baseball, joining the Montreal Expos in 2001, and retiring in 2002 with the Florida Marlins.
About nine out of every 10 people with lupus is female, she explains, so it’s not surprising that "it’s sometimes thought of as a 'women’s disease.' "
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.