Lupus and Lady GaGa
May is lupus awareness month, and once again another celebrity has put lupus front and center in the news. Lady Gaga announced recently that she has been tested for lupus, but has not disclosed the results of the test. Lupus is a chronic disorder of the immune system that causes inflammation of various parts of the body. For many people, lupus is mild, affecting only a few body organs: for others, it may cause serious and life threatening problems.
According to the London times, Lady Gaga has this to say regarding having lupus in her life, "I'm very connected to my aunt, Joanne, who died of lupus," she continues, "It's a very personal thing."
The star made news in March when she collapsed on stage during her 'Monster Ball' tour and had to cancel several shows earlier this year due to exhaustion. Many are concluding that the singer may suffer from lupus, which can cause the symptoms that Lady Gaga is experiencing such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, joint pain, anemia and extreme fatigue.
The singer admitted to having heart palpitations, saying, "But it's okay. It's just from fatigue and other things."
We at the Lupus Alliance of America, wish Lady Gaga well, and hope for the best for her treatment and continued success, whether she is found to have lupus or not. However, like the Miss Oklahoma incident earlier this month, some misinformation about lupus is being released once again. Several papers, blogs and websites have labeled lupus as a genetic disease.
There is no one cause of lupus. Although recently a gene linked to the gender difference in lupus was discovered, scientists still believe that it is the work of several genes, and/or the environmental impact on those people carrying these genes, that eventually can cause lupus. Some environmental factors that may trigger lupus include medications, ultraviolet light, a virus or infection, stress or hormones.
You can learn more about the current status of genetics and lupus by visiting the The National Institutes of Health website.
In some diseases, science has proven that a specific gene is passed to the child from one or both of the parents, causing the disease. When there is a family member with lupus, the risk factor for having lupus may be greater for other family members, with some studies indicating 3-5%. In addition, if lupus was strictly a genetic disease, then you would expect that if one identical twin developed lupus, so would the other one. However, additional studies have shown that this is not the case.
We at the Lupus Alliance of America hope that the recent news reports on both Lady Gaga and Miss Oklahoma will create increased awareness about lupus as well as the dissemination of concrete and scientific facts. Lupus is still very much a mystery, which is why now more than ever, we need to spread awareness and raise funds to help those living with the disease, and to fund much needed research into the cause and the eventual cure.