When Selena Gomez revealed that she underwent chemotherapy to treat something called lupus, a lot of her fans were left wondering what that meant. Chemotherapy is typically associated with cancer, but the good news for Selena and her fans is that it is also used to treat other conditions, and lupus is one of them.
Despite afflicting 1.5 million people in the United States alone, lupus isn’t a particularly well-known disease. For a lot of people, their only exposure to the disease has been Hugh Laurie’s famous one-liner from the long-running medical drama House.
It’s never lupus, according to Dr. House. Except for when it is, and for Selena and 1.5 million other people in the United States, it absolutely is lupus.
So what is lupus? According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s a chronic inflammatory disease that results from the body’s own immune system attacking its organs and component tissues.
This type of autoimmune disorder is exceedingly rare, but it can also be devastating, as it may affect basically any or all of a person’s internal organs, including everything from the joints and skin, to the heart and brain.
It isn’t well understood exactly what causes lupus, although there appears to be a genetic predisposition to developing it, while it can also be triggered by external factors.
Although the cause of lupus isn’t totally clear, the Lupus Foundation of America says that it isn’t a condition you can catch or give to someone.
Lupus strikes women far more than men, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, and it also affects young women more than older women.