Celebrities With Autoimmune Diseases
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It took country singer LeAnn Rimes 22 years to find a treatment for her psoriasis that actually worked, according to Health.com. It was incredibly traumatizing, she told the publication, and took a serious mental toll.
But however isolating her experience was, Rimes is not alone. Approximately one in five Americans is affected by an autoimmune disease, according to The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (ARDA), which cause your immune system to mistakenly attack healthy cells in your body. And celebrities are no exception.
These familiar faces can play an important role -- lending focus to this group of 80-plus diseases which the ARDA says are in desperate need of greater national focus, especially given how complicated diagnosis and treatment can be. Most autoimmune diseases do not go away, according to the National Institute of Health, but symptoms can be treated and people can learn to live with them.
For a look at 9 more celebs who, in addition to Rimes, are doing exactly that, read on.
Earlier this fall, tennis superstar Venus Williams announced she has Sjogren's syndrome, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/venus-williams-withdraws-us-open-sjogrens-syndrome_n_944660.html" target="_hplink">telling the Associated Press</a> that the disease sapped her energy and made it difficult for her to compete. With Sjogren's, a person's white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands, leading to issues like dry eyes and dry mouth, <a href="http://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens-syndrome" target="_hplink">according to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation,</a> as well as more serous complications, including extreme fatigue. It is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders, <a href="http://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens-syndrome" target="_hplink">the organization states,</a> and nine out of 10 sufferers are women. The good news? After several months off, Williams had a triumphant return to the court in late November.
In 2009, "The View" co-host released a new book all about eating gluten-free, after she and her doctors spent years struggling to get the correct diagnosis of celiac disease. <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2009-05-04/entertainment/17923224_1_celiac-disease-gluten-intolerance-gluten-free" target="_hplink">According to the <em>Daily News,</em></a> it was being a contestant on the show "Survivor" and eliminating gluten from her diet that allowed her to finally realize what was wrong. The digestive condition that is set-off by contact with the protein, which is why sufferers like Hasselbeck have to avoid it altogether.
Kim Kardashian was diagnosed with psoriasis on her reality TV show, heading to the dermatologist after she found flaky, pink patches on her skin. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/kim-kardashian-diagnosed-psoriasis/story?id=14152505#.TtZjmlZxCKM" target="_hplink">According to ABC News,</a> reps from the National Psoriasis Foundation have expressed concern for the star. "Celebrities with psoriasis are under intense pressure, and stress is a trigger for psoriasis," <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/kim-kardashian-diagnosed-psoriasis/story?id=14152505#.TtZjmlZxCKM" target="_hplink">a spokesperson told the news outlet.</a> <a href="http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis" target="_hplink">According to the NPF's website,</a> there are five types of psoriasis, but the most common form, called plaque psoriasis, appears as raised, red patches -- like Kardashian's -- that occur when the body sends out faulty signals, which speed up the growth cycle of skin cells.
Singer Toni Braxton lives with lupus, an autoimmune disorder that can impact a person's skin, joints, kidney, brain and other organs. Depending on what part of the body is affected, symptoms can include abdominal pain, patchy skin and serious fatigue. Braxton revealed she had the disease in an episode of her reality TV show. <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1383433/Toni-Braxton-tells-family-suffers-lupus-reality-TV-show.html" target="_hplink">According to the<em> Daily Mail,</em> </a>Braxton's brother also has lupus and her uncle died from complications from the disease.
<a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-thegameface051608" target="_hplink">According to Yahoo! Sports,</a> the football star travels everywhere with a blood testing kit given he has Type 1 (often known as juvenile) diabetes, <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/type-1-diabetes/DS00329" target="_hplink">which the Mayo Clinic describes</a> as a chronic condition whereby the pancreas produces too little or no insulin. "This whole thing is a little scary sometimes, but it's not like you have a choice," <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-thegameface051608" target="_hplink">Cutler told Yahoo!.</a> "It's part of your life, you know?"
"I remember vividly finding out that I had arthritis," <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlight/2001-06-01-turner-arthritis.htm" target="_hplink">rheumatoid arthritis sufferer and actress Kathleen Turner told <em>USA Today </em>back in 2001.</a> "I was on my way to my daughter's school for a meeting with her kindergarten teacher. All I could think about was how I would deal with it, how would I be a mother, how would I carry on?" But carry on she did, and Turner has since drawn attention to the painful autoimmune disease. For reasons not yet understood, it causes the body to attack its own tissues, particularly a thin membrane surrounding joints, <a href="http://www.arthritis.org/types-what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis.php" target="_hplink">the Arthritis Foundation reports.</a>
When rapper Missy Elliott fell out of the public eye a few years back, it was because she was quietly dealing with Graves' disease, according to <em>USA Today.</em> <a href="http://content.usatoday.com/communities/entertainment/post/2011/06/missy-elliott-reveals-graves-disease-battle/1" target="_hplink">The autoimmune disease impacts the thyroid and can lead to goiter, fatigue, insomnia, eye problems and more. <a href="http://content.usatoday.com/communities/entertainment/post/2011/06/missy-elliott-reveals-graves-disease-battle/1" target="_hplink">Indeed, according to <em>USA Today,</em></a> Elliott's condition was so debilitating, the star couldn't write or drive a car.
Former talkshow host Montel Williams announced back in 1999 that he had multiple sclerosis, the autoimmune disease that impacts the brain and spinal cord. He then began an effort to raise awareness and funding for research, starting <a href="http://www.montelms.org/" target="_hplink">The Montel Williams Foundation.</a> "When the neurologist said those three words -- 'You have MS' -- it hit me like a brick," <a href="http://www.montelms.org/" target="_hplink">Williams said on his website.</a> "It became clear that I had a choice to make. I could spend the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself as the victim of a tragic fate. Or I could view my illness as a call to action," he continued.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/01/celebs-crohns_n_913641.html#s318537&title=Shannen_Doherty" target="_hplink">As Health.com reports,</a> back in 1999 the former "90210" star and "Dancing With The Stars" contestant told <em>Star</em> magazine she has Crohn's disease. The actress has preferred to keep most details private. Crohn's affects the gastrointestinal tract, and, according to the NIH, people with the disease may have chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, leading to constipation or regular diarrhea.