After cancer and heart disease, autoimmune diseases are the third common category of disease in the United States.
There are some ADs that African Americans develop at a high rate such as Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Vitiligo, Crohn’s and Alopecia Areata. These are just a few of the autoimmune diseases that affect African-American.
Vitiligo occurs when skin begins to lose its pigmentation in blotches. Sometimes it can affect the inside of the mouth and hair. This disease happens when the cells that produce melanin start to die.
“My vitiligo presented itself about 15 years ago on my legs, says Charla Draper, Chicago Food Expert, Writer, Food Stylist. “I didn’t know what an autoimmune disease was until my vitiligo diagnosis. Doctors were very candid about the challenges of treating it or arresting the progression. All I know is that I was losing the melanin in my skin. Initially, the color loss was gradual, but as time wore on, larger areas of body began to change. Now, the majority of my pigmentation is gone and I’ve come to terms with that. It has been a long journey, but it is important that I remain healthy and in order to do that I must maintain a strong immune system. I watch my stress, eat foods that are high in nutrients and antioxidants, I attend an exercise class twice a week, and I try to get plenty of sleep.”
Lupus is one of those ADs that affect African-American women more often compared to American women of European decent, usually presenting symptoms between the ages of 15 and 44 years.