In case you missed it, Selena Gomez recently took to Instagram to clue in concerned fans that the reason she opted to lay low this past summer was because she was in recovery after an emergency kidney transplant as a result of living with lupus. The “Fetish” singer has been educating fans about the disease throughout her struggle and treatments since receiving the official diagnosis in Oct. 2015. Gomez wrote on Instagram that she's looking forward to sharing her “journey through these past several months” to reveal the ins and outs of her disease because, despite the information that's available, there are still a few myths about lupus that need a little debunking.
Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of DrAxe.com, defines lupus as a type of “autoimmune disorder” that can impact almost every aspect of a patient's life, including the joints, circulation, and respiratory system. But even though more than five million people worldwide are affected by the disease, there's minimal conversation surrounding the topic, leaving a few key details fuzzy.
So, now that we've told you what lupus is, let's talk about what lupus isn't. Here are a few common myths about lupus that seriously need to be debunked ASAP.
1. Lupus Is A Form Of Cancer
Lupus is an incurable, chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the body's organs and tissues, and develops as a result of genetics and environmental stressors. It is not, and has not ever been linked to cancer.
According to the National Resource Center On Lupus,
Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. However, some treatments for lupus may include immunosuppressant drugs that are also used in chemotherapy.
2. Lupus Is A Disease That Only Affects The Joints
Although joint pain is a common symptom of lupus, it's not the only one.
There are some diseases that latch onto and attack a specific part of the body, but because lupus affects the immune system -- which is responsible for fighting off viruses, bacteria, and the like -- your body can't differentiate between bad bacteria and healthy tissue. So instead of producing antibodies to protect itself, autoantibodies destroy the good tissue.
This can negatively affect almost any part of the body, resulting in symptoms like poor circulation, rashes, edema, fever, insomnia, and ulcers.
3. Lupus Can Be Sexually Transmitted
While what actually causes lupus remains a mystery, experts have confirmed that you cannot give or catch lupus from another person.
Smart Living Network reports,
Because lupus is not caused by a virus, bacterium, or any other infectious agent, it cannot be transmitted sexually or by any other method. While it has been passed from mother to fetus (vertical transmission), lupus has never been reported to transfer horizontally from one individual to another.
4. Only Women Have Lupus
It's true that 90 percent of lupus patients are women, but children and men can develop the autoimmune disease as well.
According to the Lupus Research Alliance, between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals of the 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with lupus are 18 years old or younger, while one in every 10 people diagnosed with lupus is male.
5. Women Who Have Lupus Can't Get Pregnant
This myth has a little bit of truth to it.
Women with lupus can absolutely get pregnant and have a successful pregnancy. However, because lupus often develops during a woman's childbearing years, the odds of experiencing some kind of complication is greater than usual.
For example, 10 percent of pregnancies in women with lupus end in a miscarriage within the first trimester, while late-term complications include conditions related to high blood pressure.
Ignacio Sanz, MD told Everyday Health,
Although most pregnancies go well, there is an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Women with lupus are at risk for renal [kidney] complications including renal failure if pregnancy occurs during a phase of active renal disease.
If you think you or a loved one may be showing symptoms of lupus, be sure to speak to your physician or a medical professional for help.