Nick Cannon illness calls attention to black celebrities with Lupus

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Nick Cannon was hospitalized for mild kidney failure in January. The rapper and actor told People magazine this month that he suffers from a lupus-like autoimmune disease that has contributed to constant health problems throughout his life.

Cannon is the latest black celebrity to go public with an autoimmune disease, particularly lupus, which stars like Toni Braxton and the late hip-hop producer, J. Dilla have battled.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, an estimated 1.5 Americans have Lupus. Studies show that it is genetically linked. Black women, in particular, are three times more likely to develop the disease than white women and it appears at an earlier age and is more severe among people of color.

In 2010, the FDA approved the first lupus drug in 50 years for use.

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