On Monday, March 5, Dr. Phil McGraw on his popular daytime talk show made statements about lupus which unfortunately minimized the serious and devastating consequences of the disease. The references to lupus were brief and were made in response to comments by a friend of Anna Nicole Smith, identified only as Frank, who claimed that Ms. Smith prior to her death confided that "she had a blood disorder and it was lupus."During the interview Dr Phil made the following comment: "[lupus] is an autoimmune deficiency. But it's not a life-threatening disease. It's something that is rather akin to arthritis. And it can cause very debilitating problems of the joints, heart, lungs, skin. All types of things, but it can be controlled very effectively with medication in most cases."The unconfirmed rumors attributing Anna Nicole Smith's untimely death to lupus have generated considerable interest in the disease. Unfortunately, media coverage has not properly explained the life-threatening and life-diminishing consequences of lupus. Statements made on the Dr. Phil Show which portrayed lupus as "something akin to arthritis" perpetuate the misimpression that lupus is just "aches, pains and fatigue." Lupus can be, and often is, a life-threatening and life-diminishing disease. LFA has forwarded a letter to Dr. Phil McGraw and the show's other senior executives asking that they correctly educate their audience about the devastating consequences of lupus. In its letter, the LFA offered to share stories submitted by many valiant individuals and families about how they have addressed the life altering impact of lupus, including suffering through multiple operations and hospital visits, debilitating pain and fatigue, organ failure, loss of jobs, loss of marital relationships and, in far too many cases, the loss of a loved one due to complications. In this way, Dr. Phil's audience might have the opportunity to learn about a disease that for too long has been under-recognized and misunderstood.
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