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Lupus expert debunks 7 common myths about the autoimmune disease: ‘Not a death sentence’

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Lupus expert debunks 7 common myths about the autoimmune disease: ‘Not a death sentence’

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Fatigue, pain, swelling, rashes and hair loss are just some of the symptoms that affect people with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue.

Some 1.5 million Americans are living with lupus, with about 16,000 new cases each year, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, based in Washington, D.C.

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There are many myths surrounding lupus that can make it difficult for people to understand and manage the disease, according to Dr. Brooke Goldner, a board-certified medical doctor and an autoimmune professor at Cornell University.

EXPERIMENTAL LUPUS THERAPY COULD BE ‘LIFE-CHANGING’ FOR PATIENTS WITH AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, STUDY FINDS

“It’s essential to educate yourself and others about lupus to dispel these myths and increase understanding of the disease,” Golder, who was diagnosed with lupus at the age of 16, told Fox News Digital.

For Lupus Awareness Month, Goldner shared some of the biggest misconceptions — and set the record straight on a number of issues.

Dr. Brooke Goldner, a board-certified medical doctor and an autoimmune professor at Cornell University, pictured at right, is committed to debunking lupus myths and misconceptions. (iStock/Dr. Brooke Goldner)

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7 myths debunked

Myth No. 1: There is only one type of lupus

The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but it’s not the only form of the disease. 

“SLE can have a wide range of symptoms that may come and go, making it challenging to diagnose,” Goldner said. 

FRIENDS RUN FOR A CURE FOR LUPUS, COMPLETING NYC MARATHON IN HONOR OF LONGTIME PAL AND LUPUS SUFFERER

Some of the common symptoms of SLE include fatigue, joint pain and stiffness, fever, hair loss, skin rashes and sensitivity to sunlight.

Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE), a less common form, affects only the skin. 

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The two least common types are neonatal lupus and drug-induced lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

Myth No. 2: Lupus is contagious

Lupus cannot be transmitted from person to person, Goldner said. 

“It occurs when your immune system attacks your own tissues and organs, causing inflammation and damage,” she said. 

Woman holding her wrist

“Lupus can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs,” one doctor said. (BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“Lupus can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs.”

Myth No. 3: Lupus only affects women

“While lupus does affect more women than men, it can affect anyone, including children and men,” Goldner said. 

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Anyone can develop lupus. Yet 90% of cases affect women between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Myth No. 4: Lupus is a cancer

Medicines like chemotherapy are often used in severe lupus cases, but it is not a form of cancer

FOR AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE SUFFERERS, GINGER MAY ‘PLAY A CRITICAL ROLE’ IN CONTROLLING INFLAMMATION, STUDY FINDS

“It is an autoimmune disease, whereby the immune system begins attacking the body’s own tissues rather than just foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria,” Goldner told Fox News Digital.

“Chemotherapy is known as an immune system suppressant, which can be lifesaving when lupus is causing organ failure and aggressive immunosuppression is required.”

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Myth No. 5: Lupus is caused by stress

While stress can trigger lupus symptoms, Goldner noted it is not the cause of the disease.

“The exact cause of lupus is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental and hormonal factors,” she said.

Myth No. 6: Lupus is purely caused by genetics

Genetics will determine whether you have the possibility of developing lupus, but it is not a condition you are born with, according to Goldner. 

Sick teen

Fatigue is a primary symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). (iStock)

“Just like someone with the genetics to become type 2 diabetic will not develop the disease unless they have a diet and lifestyle that triggers it, the same is true for lupus,” she said.

Lupus is often triggered during times of physical and emotional stress combined with a nutrient-poor inflammatory diet, the expert added.

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Myth No. 7: Lupus is a death sentence

While lupus can be a serious disease, it is “not a death sentence,” according to Goldner. 

“While there is no medical cure for lupus, there are treatments available that can help manage the symptoms and prevent damage to vital organs,” she said.

‘LIQUID GOLD’ COULD BRING NEW HOPE TO MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS PATIENTS, STUDY SUGGESTS: ‘PROFOUND BENEFIT’

“Treatment may include medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants and corticosteroids.” 

In addition to taking medications, many people with lupus can manage symptoms through healthy lifestyle interventions, according to Goldner.

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“Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating and stress management can help improve the quality of life for people with lupus,” the expert said.

Healthy eating

“Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, healthy eating and stress management can help improve the quality of life for people with lupus,” the expert said. (iStock)

As a survivor of lupus and a physician, Goldner said she has dedicated her life to bringing more awareness to the disease and helping people gain the power to manage and eliminate symptoms through nutrition and lifestyle.

“This is not to suggest that people should not use medical treatments that can be lifesaving,” she said, “but rather that they embrace taking control of all the variables they can manage, like how they eat, sleep and manage stress with self-care, so they can minimize illness and maximize recovery and remission.”

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8 of the biggest health stories from this week in case you missed them

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8 of the biggest health stories from this week in case you missed them

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Fox News Digital publishes a range of health pieces every day of the week to keep you up-to-date on the most important wellness news.

Cutting-edge medical research, breakthrough medications, mental health challenges, personal medical dramas and more are all covered.

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In case you missed them, here are a few of the biggest health stories from this week.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR HEALTH NEWSLETTER

As always, you can see a full list of recent health pieces at http://www.foxnews/health

Check out these eight key stories. 

1. Certain supplements could increase heart attack, stroke risk

A new study suggests that taking a popular form of supplements could make a certain group of people more susceptible to experiencing heart disease and strokes. 

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A cardiologist and nutritionist weighed in. Click here to get the story.

“Further studies are needed to determine the precise mechanisms for the development and prognosis of cardiovascular disease events with regular use of fish oil supplements,” the authors of a new study wrote. (iStock)

2. Half of Americans are ill-equipped to help in a crisis

Only 51% of polled Americans know how to perform hands-only CPR, and only 49% could assist with serious bleeding. 

ER doctors shared tips on how people can be better prepared. Click here to get the story.

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“When you’re trained in these lifesaving skills, you’ll know how to recognize the signs that someone needs help and buy time until the [first] responders can get there,” a doctor said. (iStock)

3. Many patients taken off life support may have survived, study suggests

Families may want to wait before making the “irreversible decision” to take loved ones off life support after a traumatic brain injury, some doctors and researchers say. Click here to get the story.

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hospital setting patient holds hand

Many patients who died after traumatic brain injuries may have survived and recovered if their families had waited to take them off life support, a new study has found. (iStock)

4. Three women share their best longevity tips

For Women’s Health Month, three mothers and grandmothers — ages 41, 55 and 64 — revealed how they’re defying their chronological ages. Click here to get the story.

Women's health

Left to right, Julie Gibson Clark, Amy Hardison and Lil Eskey all shared the lifestyle habits that are helping them slow down biological aging. (James Lee, Amy Hardison, Lil Eskey)

5. Lupus expert debunks 7 common myths

Dr. Brooke Goldner of Cornell University, who lives with lupus, has dedicated her life to raising awareness of the disease. She shared the truths behind some of the biggest misconceptions. Click here to get the story.

Lupus split

Dr. Brooke Goldner, a board-certified medical doctor and an autoimmune professor at Cornell University, pictured at right, is committed to debunking lupus myths and misconceptions. (iStock/Dr. Brooke Goldner)

6. Heart attack risk could spike during election season

Research from Massachusetts General Hospital found that people who have specific genetic traits, paired with anxiety or depression, are at a “significantly higher heart attack risk” during periods of social or political stress. Click here to get the story.

2020 election results next to image of a heart attack

“The mind-heart connection is strong, and this study highlights that not only our bodies, but also our minds, need rest and care,” a doctor said. (Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images; iStock)

7. Disrupted sleep, plus nightmares, could be linked to autoimmune diseases

Those who experience vivid nightmares and odd hallucinations might be at a higher risk of lupus, a new study suggests. Researchers and doctors revealed the link. Click here to get the story.

Desperate girl suffering insomnia

The study looked at not only the issues surrounding sleep, but also when the issues for participants began. (iStock)

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8. Paralyzed patients could find new hope in spinal cord stimulation

Ninety percent of paralyzed patients regained strength or function in their upper limbs after receiving an experimental therapy, a new study found. Experts weighed in on why this could be a “game-changer” for some patients. Click here to get the story.

Weekend health stories

Some of this week’s top health stories include supplement risks, emergency skills, sleep disorder ramifications and more. (iStock)

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