NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
May is Lupus Awareness Month. The aim of Lupus Awareness Month is to raise awareness and educate others about this life changing disease.
In a healthy immune system, the body produces antibodies which destroy unhealthy cells such as bacteria, viruses and foreign waste. However, lupus causes an overactive immune system to produce auto antibodies which attack healthy body tissue. This can affect most parts of the body including any organ.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body — skin, joints, and/or organs. It is difficult to diagnose, a challenge to treat, and there is no cure. It is more pervasive and severe than people think, and has a devastating impact that the public doesn't realize. In fact, research shows that an overwhelming two-thirds of the public knows little or nothing about lupus.
Additional facts about lupus that you should know:
• Lupus is not contagious. You cannot "catch" lupus from someone or "give" lupus to someone.
• Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above. However, some treatments for lupus may include immunosuppressant drugs that are also used in chemotherapy.
• Lupus is not like or related to HIV or AIDS. In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
• Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With proper medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
• More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
• Research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
• Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age. However, men, children, and teenagers may develop lupus also. Most people with lupus develop the disease between the ages of 15-44.
• Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
• People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.
Lupus Awareness Month is supported by the Lupus Foundation of America. For more information please visit http://www.lupusawarenessmonth.org/