Entertainer (and Mariah Carey hubby) Nick Cannon has revealed that he has a form of lupus that affects his kidneys.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation of and damage to various organs; lupus nephritis is a form that affects the kidneys.
Cannon’s case is a bit unusual because lupus affects far more women than men; only about 1 in 10 people with the condition is male, according to the Lupus Research Institute. But lupus nephritis is three times more common (and lupus in general more severe) among blacks than whites. Cannon is black.
Determining how to treat lupus nephritis requires a kidney biopsy to determine which of five classes or types of the disease is present, says Chaim Putterman, chief of rheumatology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. “The large majority” of patients, “have more severe lupus that needs active treatment with significant therapy” with medications — corticosteroids to manage inflammation and immunosuppressive drugs to “suppress the overactive immune system,” Putterman explains.
Untreated, lupus nephritis can lead to kidney failure and the need for kidney replacement, Putterman says. “Even with treatment, an unacceptably high number of patients experience kidney failure. Treatment is effective and getting better, but it’s not curative.”
In an interview Tuesday on “Good Morning America,” Cannon was a bit dodgy about his treatment plan: He mentioned “a few treatments I’ve been going back and forth with since the beginning of the year,” but added, “I’ve never been one to take medicine.” Cannon went on to say that he’s trying “holistic ways” and “meditation” to address his illness, and that in addition to eliminating his favorite fast food from his diet, he is following a low-sodium diet and drinking “tons” of water. Finally, he said, he’s following doctor’s orders to get more sleep. “Rest is probably the best medicine,” he said.
Putterman suggests that while those measures might contribute to overall good health and well-being, they are not the standard approach to treating lupus nephritis. In particular, he notes, there is “no relation between lupus nephritis and water” consumption.