8 Celebrities Who Have Battled Lupus

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Nancy LeBrun on November 30, 2020
  • Lupus celebrities
    Famous Faces Putting Lupus in the Spotlight
    Lupus is a hard-to-diagnose autoimmune disease that can affect many different parts of the body. The symptoms—such as joint pain, fatigue and skin lesions—come and go, and range from mild to life-threatening. A lupus diagnosis can strike anyone, including these well-known names.
  • Selena Gomez
    1. Selena Gomez
    In late 2015, the pop star told the world her absence from public view was not due to a stint in rehab, but to receive treatment for lupus. The disease often strikes young women of childbearing age, and can make you exhausted, cause joint and muscle pain, and affect the heart or kidneys. Gomez continues to undergo treatment, but canceled her 2016 world tour to deal with the depression and anxiety, both of which are common in people with lupus.
  • Seal
    2. Seal
    The velvet-toned singer has spoken candidly about the form of lupus he developed when he was a teen, called discoid lupus, which caused the scars on his face. Discoid lupus, named after the shape of the lesions, causes severe inflammation, particularly in areas that are exposed to the sun. It can also cause hair loss. Though Seal says he has been in remission for years, he still works to support lupus research and awareness, performing at various fundraising events.
  • Ray Walston
    3. Ray Walston
    Everyone’s favorite Martian, actor Ray Walston, died from lupus on New Year’s Day 2001, six years after being diagnosed with the disease. He was 86. Because lupus is a difficult disease to diagnose, he may have had it for years without knowing it. Although Walston was best known for the ’60s sitcom “My Favorite Martian,” he was also a Tony-winning Broadway star and won two Emmys for his work on the CBS show “Picket Fences.”
  • Paula Abdul
    4. Paula Abdul
    Dancer, choreographer, singer and reality competition show judge Paula Abdul has been one of the most active celebrities in the lupus community. Abdul credits her doctor with keeping her disease manageable but has also talked about living with pain. The joint and muscle aches of lupus can be confused with or accompanied by rheumatoid arthritis. With almost 2.5 million Twitter followers, Abdul has used social media to spread the word about lupus and is often found on the red carpet at lupus events.
  • Toni Braxton
    5. Toni Braxton
    Women are much more likely than men to develop lupus, accounting for 90% of the cases. Women of color are the most likely group of all to have the disease, and performer and TV star Toni Braxton was diagnosed in 2008. She has spoken often about her condition and the deep fatigue that comes with it. Despite the challenges, she has become an activist, helping coordinate an effort called the “Hollywood Bag Ladies Luncheon” which auctions handbags to raise money for lupus research and awareness. 
  • Nick Cannon
    6. Nick Cannon
    Entertainer Nick Cannon was hospitalized with kidney failure in early 2012, and shortly thereafter, he was back in the hospital for blood clots in his lungs. That spring, Cannon announced he had lupus nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys associated with systemic lupus. He created the YouTube series “NCredible Health Hustle,” which documented his own experience with the disease. He maintains a busy schedule but lives a healthy lifestyle, he says, to minimize the flare-ups that often come with lupus.
  • Lady Gaga
    7. Lady Gaga
    No two cases of lupus are the same, with a broad range of signs and symptoms. In 2010, Lady Gaga had heart palpitations and trouble breathing, which led her to seek medical help. Eventually, she was told that she was “borderline positive” for lupus. Gaga has an aunt who had lupus and died young. However, it’s unclear what role genetics play in the disease. Gaga says she currently does not have symptoms but takes very good care of herself, which is strongly recommended by medical experts for managing lupus.
  • Charles Kuralt
    8. Charles Kuralt
    Charles Kuralt was a popular TV newscaster, beloved by many people for his “On the Road” stories about his travels along the byways of America. He was the recipient of the prestigious Peabody Award and won 10 Emmys. When he retired from CBS News in 1995, it took many people by surprise. Two years later, at the age of 62, he died from complications of systemic lupus. Though there has been a slight uptick in lupus-related fatalities in the past two decades, it is not generally a fatal disease, and most people with lupus live a normal lifespan.
8 Celebrities Who Have Battled Lupus

About The Author

Nancy LeBrun is an Emmy- and Peabody award-winning writer and producer who has been writing about health and wellness for more than five years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
  1. Celebrities Speak Out on Lupus: 9 Names You Know. Triagehealth.com. https://blog.itriagehealth.com/celebrities-speak-lupus-10-names/
  2. Celebrities with links to Lupus. St. Thomas Lupus Trust. http://www.lupus.org.uk/news-events/celebrity
  3. Selena Gomez Confirms She Has Lupus. Lupus Foundation of America. http://www.lupus.org/blog/entry/selena-gomez-confirms-she-has-lupus
  4. Famous People With Lupus. Lupus MCTD Foundation. http://www.lupusmctd.com/index.php?topic=229.0
  5. Famous People and Celebrities with Lupus Erythematosus. Ranker. http://www.ranker.com/list/famous-people-with-lupus/celebrity-lists
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Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 30
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