Selena Gomez Chose "Nukes"

'Devastating' Lupus Led The Star To Chemo

Selena Gomez Chose Nukes. Healthy Living Magazine

Selena Gomez Chose Nukes. Healthy Living Magazine

When pop star Selena Gomez closed down her Australian tour in 2013 due to a flare-up of lupus, she didn’t go for alternative medicine.

Instead, she went for one of the “nukes” of traditional medicine—chemotherapy. The effect of chemo, she told Billboard, was devastating. “I could’ve had a stroke. I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re a--holes.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”

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Lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), affects only 1.5 million Americans; 90% of cases are women with 78% in their 20s to 40s. Hospital readmissions are highest among minority women on public health programs.

Lupus damages the kidneys, heart, skin, brain and nervous system. The cause appears to be an overactive immune system that attacks the body’s own organs.

Gomez’s lupus was treated with a family of chemotherapy drugs called cyclophosphamide.


Some doctors recommend bovine colostrum, which contains proline rich polypeptide and thymosin alpha and beta chains, both known to regulate the thymus, the seat of the immune system, as one of the foods that persons with autoimmune conditions should consume. As we age, the effect of these hormones substantially diminishes and the thymus shrinks. Restoration of thymic control of the immune system can rebalance the immune system of SLE patients.

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The dietary supplement dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) also appears useful. In a double-blind study, published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, researchers gave lupus-afflicted women 200 mg of DHEA or placebo daily for 24 weeks. The number of patients with flare-ups was decreased by 16% in the DHEA group and the number of patients with serious adverse events “was significantly lower in DHEA-treated patients compared with placebo-treated patients.” (See our report on p 34 for more DHEA information.)


For Selena, despite its side effects, chemotherapy enabled her to regain her career with release of her second solo studio album Revival and a world tour coming in 2016. “This is my time,” she says. “I’ve deserved this. I earned it. This is all me.”

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ReferenceChang DM, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment of women with mild-to-moderate systemic lupus erythematosus: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum, 2002;46(11):2924-2927.
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