What to know about lupus — the life-threatening disease actress Kemi Afolabi is battling


Kemi Afolabi, the Nigerian actress, recently revealed she is battling lupus, which is said to be an incurable and life-threatening disease. Speaking about her health in a recent interview, the movie star also disclosed that her doctor said shehas five more years to live.


Lupus, also known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a noncontagious autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.

Normally, your immune system is to protect your body from infection. But when you have lupus, your immune system attacks your own tissues which further leads to tissue damage and illness.

While there’s no cure for lupus, research indicates that it affects one in 537 young African-American women.

Another research also says 20 percent of people with lupus develop the condition before the age of 20 with the risk higher in women.

It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans, and at least five million people worldwide, have a form of lupus.


While the cause of lupus is currently unknown, a report says it might result from a combination of your genetics and your environment.

“It appears that people with an inherited predisposition for lupus may develop the disease when they come into contact with something in the environment that can trigger lupus,” it adds.

Lupus may develop in response to the following factors;

  • Sex

study states that females between the ages of 15 and 44 years are nine times more likely to have lupus than males.

Another research also suggests that exposure to estrogen makes females more at risk. Females tend to produce more estrogen — a sex hormone — than males.

Females tend to experience more symptoms of lupus before menstruation and during pregnancy due to high estrogen levels.

  • Genetic factors

study says there is a 5-13 percent chance of developing lupus if a family member has the ailment. However, lupus can also happen in people with no family history of the disease.

  • Environment

Some certain environmental factors can trigger the development of lupus such as chemicals or viruses. Smoking, exposure to sunlight, infections, and pollutants are also examples of environmental agents that can trigger the disease.


Lupus can affect different areas of the body. However, the disease has a wide range of symptoms and it varies from one person to another.

  • Fever
  • Skin rashes
  • Unusual hair loss
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Mouth ulcer
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • pale or purple fingers or toes due to cold or stress, known as Raynaud’s disease
  • Headaches and many more are possible symptoms.

Lupus can also affect organs and systems like kidneys, lungs, blood, blood vessels, the central nervous system, and also the heart.


As mentioned earlier, lupus is not curable. However, there are treatments for lupus.

The treatments are to reduce inflammation and protect organs from damage and prevent flare-ups. The treatments also vary depending on the extent of inflammation, age, and conditions of the organs.


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