Archive for the ‘Statements about Vitiligo and Lupus’ Category

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Statements about Vitiligo and Lupus

November 29, 2009

08/02/10 Officially released coroner’s report states:

They inspected his skin under a microscope and found a reduced amount of melanocytes (the cells responsible for skin pigment):

Case closed, ladies and gentlemen. There will be crow served all night long. Let’s see how many journalists and pundits will apologize for attacking him all of his life for something he could not control.

Autopsy report:

“The decedent’s overall skin has patches of light and dark pigmented areas.

There is focal depigmentation of the skin, particularly over the anterior chest and abdomen, face and arms.”

In essence, the coroner found symptoms of Vitiligo.

The autopsy report also showed other symptomatic signs of Lupus and Vitiligo such as his arthritis and receding hairline. The cosmetic tattoos to his scalp, lips and eyes done in order to disguise the lack of pigment he had and the loss of colour to his eyebrows/eyelashes by the disease. It’s very likely that during flare ups he lost his eyelashes/eyebrows and this is why he would wear false eyelashes on occasion.

Jackson had health issues: arthritis in the lower spine and some fingers, and mild plaque buildup in his leg arteries. Most serious was his lungs, which the autopsy report said were chronically inflamed and had reduced capacity that might have left him short of breath.

Jackson had several tattoos, all them cosmetic, including dark tattoos in the areas of both eyebrows and under his eyes, and a pink tattoo around his lips.

He was going bald at the front of his head, with his remaining hair described as short and tightly curled. The bald part of his scalp was darkened with what appeared to be a tattoo stretching across the top of his head from ear to ear.

The transmural stomach hemorrage is possibly autoimmune in nature and he was also taking Prednisone, a drug which is used in the treatment of Lupus.

Regarding the state of his lungs (the “blisters” Michael would tell Quincy Jones about), this was the pleaurisy that he’d been diagnosed with in 1977 – pleaurisy is autoimmune in nature and associated directly with lupus.

Microscopic examination of the patient’s affected lung has shown a variety of changes including bleeding, inflammation and congestion. Thickening of the lung wall and damage to the blood vessels is also seen. It is thought that these problems are brought about by deposition of complexes which are formed when the body launches an immune attack against itself. Why these complexes should be deposited in the lungs (or anywhere else for that matter) is largely unknown. Lupus commonly affects the lungs and has been reported in half of all patients with lupus. Its seriousness varies from the very worrying to the totally and wholly asymptomatic, not requiring any treatment at all. It is, in general, picked up by symptoms of lung involvement (chest pain), shortness of breath, coughing up blood, or by evidence of lung involvement on clinical examination and sometimes by special tests. Diagnosis may be simple or difficult depending on the type of underlying lung involvement.

LaToya Jackson was the first person to publically discuss his lightened skin and also the first person to say that he had lupus, she says he was diagnosed in 1979

La Toya offered an explanation for Michael’s appearance last week and it’s a new one that the family hasn’t mentioned, confirmed or denied before: Michael LaToya has said, has grown lighter over the years because he has lupus, a chronic disorder that causes skin lesions and can be aggravated by the sun. He doesn’t want anybody to know he has this disease, she said. Indeed he has never mentioned it publicly. She said that Michael was first diagnosed 12 years ago. He avoids the sun she said and his skin color has faded as a result.

Cicely Tyson, a friend of Michael’s since he was a kid, has said the reason he wore the glove was because of his vitiligo; he started wearing the glove in 1981

Michael Jackson’s single white glove was his trademark — an iconic image for a performer whose career constantly set, then redefined, pop culture trends but it also was an early effort to mask a skin condition that he would struggle with for the rest of his life, say some who were close to him.

Actress Cicely Tyson, a friend of Jackson’s, said the two shared a fashion designer in the 1980s.

“All of a sudden, he said, ‘I’m doing this glove for Michael,’ ” she said. “Michael was beginning to develop the vitiligo and it started on his hand.

“The glove was to cover the vitiligo; that’s how that glove came into being.”

The glove design and reason for it were not just hearsay for Tyson, she said.

“I was there when he was creating it,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon.

Taiwanese fan Mrs Ma on befriending Michael, confirms the white glove story:

Michael had confided to Mrs. Ma things like his iconic sequins glove, was first used to hide his skin problem vitiligo that first appeared on his hand, and the glove had surprisingly become his signature trademark.

Pepsi Official on Meeting Michael in 1986

Plainly dressed in a starched white shirt and jeans, Michael quietly greeted us and led us to the dining room. My first impression was that his skin was like none I had ever seen. It was translucent. He was in his 20s but still didn’t shave.

Artist David Nordahl first met Michael in 1988 and has known him for over 20 years:

People accused him of trying to be white, which is ridiculous. When I first met him, his vitiligo (a skin disorder that causes pigmentation loss) had gone to the right side of his face and down his neck. Most of his right hand was white. Stark white patches. He used makeup because he had to. Without it, he was speckled all over.

Nordahl never witnessed drug use by Jackson but was keenly aware of pain problems that lingered after the star’s hair caught fire on a Pepsi ad soundstage.

When they were trying to repair that burned spot, he had a balloon under his scalp that was inflated. He let me feel it. It was a huge mound. As the skin got stretched, they cut it out and stitched the scalp. He was in excruciating pain.

The Washington Post Reported He Suffered From Vitiligo on Sep 18, 1990

“The word was that Michael [Jackson] had vitiligo, which started on his hand and around…”

Leroy, someone who worked with Michael for over 17 years, starting in 1992

Here you go: I’ve worked with Michael Jackson in his studio on and off for over 17 years – that covers most of the time that everyone seems to be fixating upon.

Michael has vitiligo. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, along with the unhappiness it has caused him both privately and publicly. Many great artists are reserved off stage, but for Michael this was compounded by the media and public obsession over his appearance. He covered much of this up with make-up – and for many years hid behind a screen of uncomfortable and impractical panstick.

He’s tried to learn to be accepting that people don’t believe the transformation he’s made over the years, but all this ridiculous argument over it makes it incredibly hard for him. I see him a couple of times a year, usually just for a day or so, and even now, all the speculation and prying offends and upsets him. He is one of the most loving, kind and gentle souls I’ve ever met, and has possibly the most stoic and forgiving nature in the light of such awful injustice, slander and bigotry. He’s not without faults, and has to be one of the most exacting professionals I’ll ever have the fortune to work with. Most of the time, he ignores what people say, and in the last few years he’s gone past caring what people think. He isn’t on earth to justify how he looks – but the public seem to assume that he must account for the changes he made to his appearance, including those that he couldn’t control. I can tell you: I’ve been in a pool with him: before he had depigmentation therapy, he was blotchy all over. Now, he’s basically so white that he burns at even slight exposure to the sun. This was a choice he made: makeup or treatment, and having the money, he got the treatment. I don’t blame him – had I this condition, and the funds, I would have done it too.

And let me tell you: when you get to know him, he’s a normal, easy-going (out of the studio!) guy, with a great sense of humour and is most definitely a BLACK man.

I posted here because he bet me ages ago that I couldn’t find a single site online that really addressed his skin colour in an even manner. I hope I’ve cleared up some of your questions.

Teddy Riley says Michael was unhappy with what he’d done, so if his goal were to become “White” why would that be the case (as if being Black is just a skin colour) Rolling Stone 1992

Teddy Riley says that during the Dangerous recording sessions, Jackson talked a lot about what he’d done to his face and skin. “I’m quite sure if Michael could have done it all over again, he would not have done that,” says Riley. “But there’s no turning back. Once you change your description, you can’t turn back. You can’t get your own face on your own skin back again. But he is still Michael Jackson; he is still the talented man that everybody grew up on.”

Michael on Oprah, February 1993

Michael : Number one, as I know of, there is no such thing as skin bleaching, I have never seen it, I don’t know what it is.

Oprah : Well they used to have those products, I remember growing up always hearing always use bleach and glow, but you have to have about 300,000

gallons.

Michael : Okay, but number one, this is the situation. I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin, it’s something that I cannot help. Okay. But when people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I

am it hurts me.

Oprah : So it is…

Michael : It’s a problem for me that I can’t control, but what about all the millions of people who sits out in the sun, to become darker, to become other than what they are, no one says nothing about that.

Oprah : So when did this start, when did your … when did the color of your skin start to change?

Michael : Oh boy, I don’t … sometime after Thriller, around Off the Wall, Thriller, around sometime then.

Oprah : But what did you think?

Michael : It’s in my family, my father said it’s on his side. I can’t control it, I don’t understand, I mean, it makes me very sad. I don’t want to go into my medical history because that is private, but that’s the situation here.

Oprah : So okay, I just want to get this straight, you are not taking anything to change the color of your skin …

Michael: Oh, God no, we tried to control it and using make-up evens it out because it makes blotches on my skin, I have to even out my skin. But you know what’s funny, why is that so important? That’s not important to me. I’m a great fan of art, I love Michelangelo, if I had the chance to talk to him or read about him I would want to know what inspired him to become who he is, the anatomy of his craftsmanship, not about who he went out with last night … what’ wrong with … I mean that’s what is important to me.

Jermaine Jackson, after the Oprah interview, 1993

“Michael has a form of lupus that destroys the pigment in the skin.”

February 13th 1993, his dermatologist Arnold Klein issued a statement

“Mr. Jackson has requested that I make this statement,” The Associated Press quoted the dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein, as saying. “It is not contagious and is a result of the loss of pigment producing cells of the skin.” Michael’s dermatologist said he diagnosed Jackson’s discolouring Vitiligo skin disorder in 1986.

Janet Jackson, Sky 1993

Watching Michael on the Oprah Winfrey Show she was, she says;”So proud of him. Because all the things he told Oprah, I knew. I know my mother knew, just like with his skin disorder, the whole disease. But he asked me not to tell anyone,so I couldn’t say anything. But it’s lifted so much off my shoulders. When people would ask me before, I would wind up saying: ‘Lookit, he can do whatever he wants, he owns himself. Nobody owns him. He can do whatever the fuck he wants with himself.’

”And that’s kind of like me saying:’Yes, he does bleach his skin,’ which he doesn’t, yet I don’t know, I was trying… I was trying to answer their questions. So when he did that it just lifted a ton of bricks off me.”Jackson’s voice falters a little. “I thought he was wonderful. I was proud that he opened his heart and everyone could see that he’s not this crazy guy living in some fantasy… and even if he did live in his own fantasy world, he has the right to. People say he doesn’t know what’s going on outside his own… and he does. That’s the one thing. Michael is so incredibly brilliant,” says his younger sister passionately. “He’s so smart.”

“And you know,” she continues, voice rising in indignation, “sometimes you need to get away… Whatever your release is. And that’s his. Just being in his compound and having a great time and inviting children down there to enjoy it with him.”

Janet Jackson, Ebony September 1993

Concerning another family issue, Jackson goes on to say she felt a burden had been lifted from her shoulders when brother Michael finally revealed that a skin pigmentation disease is the cause of his skin’s discolouration. “I knew and I knew that my mother knew,” she says. “He said, ‘Jan, please don’t tell anybody.’ I didn’t even know if my other brothers and sisters knew. I truly didn’t but I was not about to tell them.”

Jackson goes on to reveal how much it “irked” her when people would ask, “Why does your brother want to be white?” She says: I got so sick of that because my brother is extremely intelligent and he’s extremely talented and he’s very, very smart. And I felt that people were thinking that he felt to be so talented or so smart he had to be acting White in order to get where he is. But I’m so happy he talked about it because he’s not like that at all. And he’s very proud of his race and who he is.”

Dr Richard Strick, who was appointed and paid for by the DA (Tom Sneddon) performed the court ordered examination of him in December 1993 and had viewed his medical records

“Michael had a disease vitiligo in which the pigment is lost and attempts had been made to bring that pigment back which had been unsuccessful so he tried to bleach it out so it would be one colour.

Lupus is also an autoimmune disease and he also had skin involvement, which had destroyed part of the skin of his nose and his nasal surgeries and all were really reconstructive, to try and look normal. “

So all these nose reconstructions you’re saying was as a result of him treating his lupus?

“The first one was to try and reconstruct from some scar tissue and obstruction that had happened with the skin there. It didn’t work out very well and all subsequent attempts were to make it right.

I think he was trying to look like a normal guy as best as that he could.”

December 23rd 1993 Michael issued a televised press statement addressing the charges against him and re-addressing his Vitiligo

“They served a search warrant on me, which allowed them to view and photograph my body, including my penis, my buttocks, my lower torso, thighs and any other areas they wanted,” he said.

“They were supposedly looking for any discoloration, spotting, blotches or other evidence of a skin color disorder called vitiligo, which I have previously spoken about,” Mr. Jackson said.

Mr. Jackson said the warrant stated that he “had no right to refuse the examination or photographs, and if I failed to cooperate with them, they would introduce that refusal at any trial as an indication of my guilt.”

Arnold Klein and Debbie Rowe both testified he had it, 1994 Grand Jury Depositions

“During court depositions in 1994, both Jackson’s dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein and his nurse (Deborah Rowe, who Jackson later married) revealed that following a biopsy of his scalp in 1983, Jackson was diagnosed with lupus and vitiligo.”

Gino Brando in the 1994 update of Magic and Madness,

Says another associate, Gino Brando (not related to Marlon Brando), “The vitiligo is a real problem for Michael, and has been for years. It has affected him in many emotional ways, and has forced him to use a lot of make up and over cover ups. The horror of waking up every day with these spots made him miserable.

“Prior to this, Mike was upset because he had blemished. When they were finally gone because he was coming out of adolescence, then the vitiligo struck. It was if he could not win. All of this has just served to make him more insecure. It is very difficult to be a public person and have to deal with these kind of private tortures.”

June 16th, 1995 author Randy Taraborrelli claims Michael wanted to bring up his Lupus and Vitiligo in a discussion with Diane Sawyer

Michael Jackson biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli claims the performer wanted to talk more about the color of his skin during his “PrimeTime Live” interview with Diane Sawyer.

The writer says Jackson told him he now has discoid lupus, a nonfatal form of the disease, whichrequires him to take a medication called hydroxychloroquine. And, according to Jackson, the drugcauses vitiligo loss of pigmentation.

N.Y. skin expert Dr. Howard Sobel tells us, “It is possible for chloroquine to causehypopigmentation, but whether it’s the cause of his problem is hard to tell you. The chloroquinebinds to melanin, which is responsible for the pigment of our skin. If that happens, it’s possible to have a whitish area of skin.”

According to the medical treatments for Discoid Lupus, Hydroxychloroquine is recommended, it’s also used in the treatment of Vitiligo. It can cause depigmentation.

VH1 Interview, 1996

Question: Why are you wearing a silk mask in your latest appearances?
Michael: Because…uh..with time my skin condition has gotten worse. I hate to say it. I have vitiligo and uh, I am totally completely allergic to the sun. I’m not even suppose to be outside actually, even if I am in the shade the sunrays can destroy my skin.

Michael’s mother Katherine Jackson says,

His face is white because he has had this disease, and instead of having it spotted like a cow or something like that he just decided to just do the whole thing, because he could afford to do it.

Dr Len Horovitz treated Michael Jackson for dehydration on April 17/18 1999

The most important thing he told me: Jackson really does suffer from vitiligo, the medical condition that has caused his skin to turn white over the years.

Horovitz said, and I think we have to believe him, that Jackson does not do anything to overtly lighten his skin.

“He has not had chemical peels or used any drugs to do it,” he said. “He is blotchy in places that you can’t see, and he does wear makeup in public. But the vitiligo is real.”

Joe Jackson, 10 September 2001

Jackson declined to answer questions posed by the Post’s intrepid Dan Kadison about Michael’s appearance or his financial situation. He did insist, however, that Michael has not had his skin color altered and referred to an aunt who presumably has the same illness, vitiligo, which Michael says plagues him.

Jermaine Jackson brought it up on CNN, December 12, 2002

J. Jackson: And — go ahead.

Chung: You did mention — you brought up the plastic surgery. And it was a funny thing that you said. And you’re probably right. Nobody would be left in L.A. But your brother did tell Oprah Winfrey at one point that he — let’s see, the words that he used…

J. Jackson: Vitiligo.

Chung: Well, and that he was never pleased with his looks. So, why do you think he’s had so much work?

J. Jackson: Well, I’ll tell you, Connie, Vitiligo, which I’ll answer, that it is a discoloration of the skin that — it’s sort of like a disease that eats away at the pigmentation of the skin.

Chung: Yes. Yes.

J. Jackson: But, at the same time, we have people who want to go out in the sun who want to become darker. I think, if I don’t like something that’s wrong with me or that I feel that I want to improve, I would make a change. You would do the same, whether it’s a hairstyle or this or that. But I think, because he’s in the public’s eye and because of who he is, every little thing is taken out of context.

Jermaine Jackson, Larry King, January 9, 2003

KING: As brothers, concerning facial changes, when you ask him about it, obviously I would ask my brother if he changed a lot. Why are you doing this? What would he say?

JERMAINE JACKSON: Well, first of all, he has this skin disease and it’s a discoloration of pigmentation of the skin.

KING: Didn’t know that.

JERMAINE JACKSON: Well, you know that now.

Karen Faye his make-up artist for over 25 years, 2003

It started happening relatively early, he even was trying to hide it from me..he tried to hide it for quite awhile. He’d always try to cover it with makeup and even out his skin tone until it got so extensive. It’s all over his body. We were always trying to hide it and cover it for the longest time until he just had to tell Oprah and tell the world, ‘Listen I’m not trying to be white, I have a skin disease.’ In the beginning I tried to cover the light spots to match the darker part of his skin, but then it became so extensive that we had to go with the lighter part of his skin because his whole body was reacting…he’d have to be in complete full body makeup, every inch of his body. So it was easier to make the transition to him being to the lighter shade that he is.

Michael Jackson attended an Evening of Love, Light and Laughter to Benefit Lupus LA and Lupus Research at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California and made a brief speech with his lupus specialist rheumatologist Dr Allan Metzger, October 1 2003

Mark Lester, January 9 2004

He said that in all this time he has not questioned Jackson about his plastic surgery, but acknowledges that a skin disease has caused Jackson’s skin color to change.

“His melanin is gone,” Lester said, “and it’s very painful for him to be in the sun. He has vast depigmentation. He takes medicine to fill in the blotches where he’s turned white.”

Janet Jackson on Jonathan Ross, May 2004

Jonathan: “The plastic surgery, the changing of the skin colour, that kind of stuff…”
Janet stops him, “I don’t like it when people say that. The changing of the skin colour. Because he truly has vitiligo and it’s actually in my family. He’s not the only person in my family who actually has it.”
Jonathan: “I didn’t realize that other people in your family actually had that.”
Janet: “Yea.”

Gladys Knight says Michael is really sick, June 29th 2005

Gladys: I talked to him a couple times during that. And he’s really sick. I don’t know why they don’t bring that out? you know, Physically. It’s not an act. you know?
(Jackie cuts her off)
Jackie: With the back?
Gladys: He has a disease
Jackie: Problems and going to the hospital, he’s had a lot of problems physically?
Gladys: He’s really sick
Jackie: Yea
Gladys: you know, and it’s not for me to make that announcement. you know. But for me to do that, you know. That’s for his family to do that thing.
Jackie: Yea, well he’s lucky to have you.
Gladys: Yea, you know. I just pray for him all the time.

Fox news reported that Michael had it Oct 9th 2007

Michael Jackson’s living in limbo, so the stories start floating around.Now comes one that his “nanny” or whoever she is, Grace Rwaramba, has lupus and is fighting it alone.

This is a weird twist on an old story, so let’s set it straight. It’s Jackson who suffers from lupus, sources close to the former pop star report.

He had to demonstrate in court that he had both illnesses, neither of which were questioned by the prosecution, 18th of November 2008

However, it later transpired that Michael Jackson suffers from both vitiligo and lupus, although the latter is in remission. The reason for his pale apparel is that the disease, the treatments and the make-up all contribute to a slight lightening of his skin tone. It was also suspected that he suffered from anorexia nervosa.

Adrian Grant, June 25th 2009

Yes, he had plastic surgery, but not to the extent people like to believe. He freely admits to having his nose changed a few times. Big deal. Half of Hollywood have, move on. In September 1987, during a telephone call to American chat show host Barbara Walters, Michael said his change in appearance was not only down to two nose jobs and having a cleft put in his chin, but also due to his change in diet over the years, having become a vegetarian. But what people seemed to freak out most over was his skin colour. This was where I felt most sorry for Michael, because he really did have a skin condition called vitiligo, yet most of the media still ridiculed his paleness or the fact that he hid from the sun. When you see someone with skin burns do you call them names? Michael had a skin disease that couldn’t be cured. All he could do was control it in the most aesthetic way he felt comfortable with. When I first met Michael in 1990 he was in the very early stages of the disease, but over the years and during subsequent meetings I could see that patches were appearing across his skin. This is a common effect of vitiligo.

Deepak Chopra, CNN June 26 2009

BLITZER: Tell us something, you know, about Michael Jackson that you want the whole world to know about right now, at this really, really tragic moment.

CHOPRA: OK. So, you know, I think the whole world does know, to some extent, that the — that Michael was a victim of childhood trauma and abuse. There’s a lot of medical literature, Wolf, that shows that, when you have been verbally or mentally or physically or sexually abused as a child, that this has physical consequences on you, that — there’s a paper in psychosomatic medicine that says children who have experienced this have a very like — high likelihood of autoimmune diseases.

What the world doesn’t know, most people don’t know, is that Michael had lupus, which is an autoimmune disease. He had vitiligo, a skin disorder, which is also an autoimmune disease. It causes great disfigurement of the skin.

So, he hid from the world because he was — in many ways, he had a sense of shame. He had a sense of self-loathing, which expresses as autoimmune disease also. So, he would cover himself up. And, of course, the world called him “Wacko Jacko” for that reason.

He also, as a result of his childhood trauma, had this tendency to mutilate himself, in a sense.

This obsession with plastic surgery was, in a sense, an expression of that mutilation.

Deepak Chopra, a friend of Michael’s, June 27th 2009

He had been diagnosed with lupus and he had vitiligo. There’s some recent research that suggests that if children have experienced either physical or verbal, mental, emotional or sexual abuse, then 20, 30 years later they can develop these autoimmune diseases including lupus.

Michael, he was never sexually abused but according to him, he was traumatized verbally and physically in his childhood, and it was a big issue with him.

Chopra’s son, Gotham, who was also close to Jackson June 27 2009

It was very disturbing to him that people thought he always wanted to be white and he was bleaching his skin. [But] he identified as being a black person and so it was troubling to him that everyone thought that he was a hater of his own race. And the lupus, why he didn’t just come out more clearly and say that was the problem, I’m not sure. But I know it was something that bothered him a lot.

He had a lot of blotches on his skin, huge white patches all over his body. So he would cover up his body and that of course gave food for fodder to the press.

Sandi Hammons, Owner of Premier Pigments, a specialist dermatology make up brand that Michael used, slams reports that he didn’t want to be Black, July 7th 2009

Permanent cosmetic pioneer, Sandi Hammons, and her company, Premier Pigments, the manufacturer of the permanent makeup worn by the late Michael Jackson, are speaking out against widespread assertions that “Michael Jackson didn’t want to be black.”

Arlington, TX (PRWEB Reprinted) July 7, 2009 – Permanent cosmetic pioneer and celebrity permanent makeup artist, Sandi Hammons, and her company, Premier Pigments, the manufacturer of the permanent makeup worn by the late Michael Jackson, are speaking out against widespread assertions that “Michael Jackson didn’t want to be black.”

“That is so far from the truth,” says Hammons. “Anyone making those assertions obviously doesn’t understand the disease Michael suffered from or the treatment options available to him.”

“There are even some medical professionals who still consider the disease to be nothing more than a cosmetic nuisance,” said Hammons, “But the truth is, many people diagnosed with the disease suffer greatly. A deep sense of shame and hopelessness (including depression and suicidal thoughts) along with a preoccupation with appearance and available treatments are really not uncommon. Vitiligo is especially traumatic for darker skinned individuals, as the contrast between pigmented and depigmented skin can be quite drastic.”

Jackson was widely criticized for his use of bleaching medications and chemical peels. “What people don’t understand is that there are few, if any, treatments that are effective, especially for widespread cases like Michael’s.”

There are three common types of treatment for vitiligo: 1. Repigmentation as in the case of PUVA and UV lights (Typically ineffective on widespread cases) 2. Micropigmentation (i.e. cosmetic tattooing – recommended on small areas that accept cosmetic pigment) 3. Depigmentation, as in the case of using bleaching creams to remove smaller pigmented areas (typically recommended for widespread cases similar to Jackson’s).

Vitiligo affects 1% to 2% of the population. It is estimated that over 50 million people suffer from this little known and often misunderstood disease. The precise cause of the disease is complex and not fully understood. There is some evidence suggesting that it is caused by a combination of autoimmune, genetic and environmental factors. “Stress is definitely a contributing factor,” said Hammons. “Changing skin colors add even more stress, particularly if vitiligo develops on visible areas of the body, such as the face, hands, arms, feet, or on the genitals.”

In some cultures there is a stigma attached to having vitiligo. Those affected with the condition are sometimes thought to be evil or diseased and are sometimes shunned by others in the community. People with vitiligo may feel depressed because of this stigma or because their appearance has changed dramatically.

Hammons has great compassion for Jackson and his battle with the disease. “To deal with the psychological impact of this disease is significant; to deal with the very public and cruel opinions of others must have been overwhelming.”

“Trauma drives addiction,” adds Hammons. “In my opinion, those who judged him unknowingly contributed to his preoccupation with appearance, his eventual addiction to cosmetic surgery and prescription drugs, and ultimately his early death. We all need to have more compassion for those who suffer from this baffling and misunderstood disease.”

On July 8, 2009, Michael Jackson’s dermatologist of 25 years, Dr. Arnold Klein, appeared on Larry King Live. Among the topics of discussion included Michael’s affliction with vitiligo, lupus erythematosus, and chronic pain; as well as the subjects of plastic surgery and body dysmorphic disorder.

Aired July 8, 2009 – 21:00 ET

DR. ARNIE KLEIN, MICHAEL JACKSON’S DERMATOLOGIST: I met Michael because someone had brought him into my office. And they walked into the room with Michael. And I looked one — took one look at him and I said you have lupus erythematosus. Now, this was a long word.

KING: Lupus?

KLEIN: Lupus, yes. I mean, because he had red — a butterfly rash and he also had severe crusting you could see on the anterior portion of his scalp. I mean I always am very visual. I’m a person who would look at the lips of Mona Lisa and not see her smile. I would see the lips.

KING: Was he there because of that condition?

KLEIN: He was there only because a very close friend of his had told him to come see me about the problems he had with his skin. Because he was — he had severe acne, which many people made fun of him [for]. He used to remember trying to clean it off and he’d gone to these doctors that really hurt him very much. And he was exquisitely sensitive to pain.

So he walked into my office. He had several things wrong with his skin. So I said — and you have thick crusting of your scalp and you have some hair loss.

He says, well, how do you know this?

I said, because it’s the natural course of lupus. So I then did a biopsy.

KING: [...] Well, what about pain killing medications? Did you prescribe any?

KLEIN: I mean I’ve some sedatives for, you know, when he had surgical procedures that were immense, because, don’t forget, he had a lot of — he had the burn — the serious burn when he was burnt on the Pepsi commercial and the severe hair loss when he, you know, contracted lupus, also.

So when you have to fix all these areas, you have to sedate him a little bit.

But if you took all the pills I had given him in the last year at once, it wouldn’t do anything to you.

[...]

KING: What is vitiligo?

KLEIN: It’s a loss of pigment cells. And the pigment cells, you — for every 36 normal cells in your body, you have one pigment cell pumping pigment into them. Unfortunately, it’s an autoimmune disease and lupus is an autoimmune disease. And they tend to go together, because you make antibodies against your pigment cells.

KING: Did Michael have it?

KLEIN: Absolutely. We biopsied (INAUDIBLE).

KING: What causes it?

KLEIN: It’s caused by your immune system and your immune system destroying your pigment cells.

KING: Do black people have it more than white people?

KLEIN: No. But it’s just more visible on black people, because they have a dark skin. The other thing is, it certainly occurs with a family history. And I believe one of Michael’s relatives did, in fact, have vitiligo.

KING: How bad was his?

KLEIN: Oh, his was bad because he began to get a totally speckled look over his body. And he could…

KING: All over his body?

KLEIN: All over his body, but on his face significantly; on his hands, which were very difficult to treat.

KING: So let’s clear up something.

He was not someone desirous of being white?

KLEIN: No. Michael was black. He was very proud of his black heritage. He changed the world for black people. We now have a black president.

KING: So how do you treat vitiligo?

KLEIN: Well, I mean there’s certain treatments. You have one choice where you can use certain drugs called (INAUDIBLE) and ultraviolet light treatments to try to make the white spots turn dark or — his became so severe, that the easier way is to use certain creams that will make the dark spots turn light so you can even out the pigments totally.

KING: So your decision there was he would go light?

KLEIN: Well, yes, that’s ultimately what the decision had to be, because there was too much vitiligo to deal with and…

KING: Otherwise, he would have looked ridiculous?

KLEIN: Well, you can’t — he would have to wear heavy, heavy makeup on stage, which would be ridiculous. And he couldn’t really go out in public without looking terribly peculiar.

KING: [...] How did you treat the vitiligo?

KLEIN: Well, we basically used creams that would even out the same color and we destroyed the remaining pigment cells.

KING: And did his color change a lot over the years?

KLEIN: No, because once we got — we got it more uniform, it remained stable. But you still had to treat it because once in a while — and he had to also be extraordinary careful with sun exposure because of a lot of things. And that’s why he had the umbrellas all the time (INAUDIBLE) skin now.

KING: So when you have vitiligo, you have it all your life?

KLEIN: Usually. Almost uniformly. You don’t just have a little bit of it. And it’s most disconcerting not in white people, but in black people because you begin to look like a leopard.

KING: You can see it. Yes.

Did he have blotches?

KLEIN: He had blotches but we evened out almost all of them. And he was very, very devoted to treating it. I mean he wanted to look well. He wanted to look well for one group of people, his fans. He wanted to embrace and love his fans more than any performer I’ve ever known.

KING: Did he have hair?

KLEIN: He had lost a great deal of it. You forget this first fire…

KING: That was the Pepsi fire, right?

KLEIN: Yes. But then what happened is he used a great deal of what are called tissue expanders in his scalp, which are balloons that grow up — blow up the scalp. And then what they do is they try to cut out the scar.

Well, because he had lupus, what happened is every time they would do it, the bald spot would keep enlarging.

So, I mean, he went through a lot of painful procedures with these tissue expanders until I put a stop to it. I said no more tissue expanders, because he had to wear a hat all the time and it was really painful for him.

KING: So what would his — without the hat, what would he look like?

KLEIN: Well, he had a big raised ball on the top of his head because of this device. It would expand the tissue, which you cut out.

Dr. James Nordlund, a dermatologist who specializes in skin color disorders, July 8 2009

Nordlund never treated Jackson but said the singer’s use of the gloves and lipstick was consistent with the patterns of vitiligo, since the spots frequently first appear on the hands and face, including the lips. He said Jackson’s representatives once reached out to several dermatologists, including him, to hold a symposium on vitiligo at the Neverland Ranch, but those plans never materialized.

Lupus expert Dr Wallace 9th July 2009

Dear Colleagues:

I can confirm that Michael Jackson had vitiligo and discoid (chronic cutaneous lupus) and never had systemic disease that played any role in his passing.

I am concerned that some commentators are relating that a background of abuse has anything to do with lupus. There has never been a peer reviewed published article that specifically has shown this in lupus.

Thanks

Dan Wallace MD

Clinical Professor of Medicine

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Dr Arnold Klein and Dr Robert Lahita, ABC News, July 9, 2009

The singer’s physician, Dr. Arnie Klein, on Wednesday told “Good Morning America” that he’d diagnosed Jackson with lupus, a disease in which the immune system attacks the body, causing inflammation, pain and damage to certain tissues, ABC News reported.

What’s known about Jackson’s other medical conditions may also point to lupus, Dr. Robert Lahita, an autoimmune disease expert and a professor of medicine at Mount Sinai Medical School, told “Good Morning America.”

“He had a form of skin lupus, called discoid lupus, which affects about 40 percent of the patients with lupus,” Lahita said. Discoid lupus can lead to depigmentation of the skin, among other problems.

“Michael Jackson acknowledged having vitiligo, having splotches of the skin,” Lahita said, ABC News reported. Vitiligo is common with autoimmune disease. Patients with vitiligo are normally advised to avoid sun expsoure, which may explain Jackson’s use of an umbrella on sunny days.

The white glove and surgical masks may have been used to camouflage the white skin patches caused by vitligo, he said.

Tito Jackson, The Mirror, 15th July 2009

He wasn’t trying to make himself look less black. My brother had a case of vitiligo. His body was blotching and he chose to bleach out the blotches with dermatologist creams. He wanted to have uniform skin. It had nothing to do with him wanting to change his race. It was due to the loss of pigmentation. If I had no pigment I would be just the same.

I don’t know if he was embarrassed, but he knew his body was going through changes. He just wanted to look as good as he could.

He had no choice in the matter, otherwise he would have looked like a spotted animal or a cow with spots all over him. It spreads and grows, you can catch it any time and can’t do a lot about it. That’s why he just had to carry on bleaching his whole life. He was trying to get himself as attractive as he could, to make himself presentable as a celebrity.

He felt if he didn’t do something it could in some way not be attractive to his fans.

Joe Jackson, 15 July 2009

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chris Connelly, Joe Jackson said his son had vitiligo, and attributed Michael Jackson’s whitened skin to the condition.

“Everybody tryin’ to make a big thing out of it … They say — ‘He try to paint his self white.’  That’s not true. Michael got vitiligo,” Joe Jackson said.

“We saw it comin’ on him … at [an] early age. You know, just a little spot. My aunt had the same thing.”

Deepak Chopra, Larry King Live, July 15 2009

KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Deepak Chopra, a frequent and always welcome guest, physician, spiritual teacher, best- selling author and longtime friend of Michael Jackson.

Let’s look another look at that newly revealed footage from Michael Jackson’s 1984 Pepsi commercial shoot and the accident that he later admitted triggered his use of painkillers.

KING: What are your thoughts as you watch this, Deepak?

DEEPAK CHOPRA, PHYSICIAN, SPIRITUAL TEACHER, LONG TIME FRIEND OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Well, certainly, I mean it makes you understand why he would have required narcotics and painkillers. Second and third degree burns can be extremely painful. But, you know, Larry…

KING: Does it make you rescind prior criticism of his getting painkillers?

CHOPRA: Well, you know, when you’re a celebrity, you’re such a powerful person and you’re such an important person, you frequently end up getting the worst care, because it’s difficult for a doctor to refuse you.

KING: Yes.

CHOPRA: The patient, whatever they demand, the doctor submits to it. And what happens is, ultimately, it leads to the addiction.

KING: Did — did Michael ever talk to you about that incident?

CHOPRA: He did talk to me about that incident.

KING: What did he say?

CHOPRA: He was obsessed after that about his appearance; also about the fact that he was disfigured. We had long discussions about the fact that I felt that he had a lot of self-loathing, he had a lot of shame and that his…

KING: Over what?

CHOPRA: …obsession with mutilation was part of his, you know, childhood stress.

KING: He was disfigured or did he just lose hair?

CHOPRA: Well, he had lupus. He had extensive patches of white that were very disfiguring. And he had vitiligo. And these autoimmune diseases, by the way, Larry, are — there’s a report in “Psychosomatic Medicine” this year that children who experienced a lot of trauma or stress or who were physically or verbally abused in childhood will go on to get autoimmune diseases 20 years later, 30 years later.

KING: Yes. Concerning lupus, though, Dr. Daniel Wallace of Cedar Sinai Medical Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine, one of the word’s leading experts on lupus, issued a statement about reports that Michael Jackson had the disease. And he said: “Reports that Michael Jackson had discoid lupus, a localized form of lupus that affects the skin and spares the internal organs, included some misconceptions about the disease, particularly the hypothesis that lupus is linked to childhood traumatic stress. There has never been any evidence-based studies specifically linking the development of lupus to physical or psychological trauma in childhood.”

CHOPRA: And there’s a specific write-up about that in “Psychosomatic Medicine,” February of this year and these doctors…

KING: Denying what the doctor says?

CHOPRA: Well, they should look — just Google it. You can Google it right now and you’ll see it’s a study of over 2,400 patients.

So I’m surprised that these experts have missed it.

KING: So you’re saying the doctor is wrong?

CHOPRA: I’m saying that they’ve missed the study.

KING: But he’s an expert on lupus.

CHOPRA: Well, that — well, I’m sorry, but he hasn’t kept up with the literature.

Former Sony Executives, Cory Rooney and Chris Apostle, August 5, 2009

CR: “He said, ‘What’s the difference in me and Sylvester Stallone and anybody else in Hollywood?’ He said, ‘So what?’ He said, ‘My skin disease, I don’t want to be white.’ He said, ‘That’s not what I’m trying to do.’ He said, ‘But I couldn’t help my skin disease.’ He said, ‘I did try a surgery to even it all out and do things like that that did not turn out the way I wanted it to turn out, but that’s not the reason I turned into a light skinned black man.’ As far as my nose he said, ‘I hated my nose just like Sylvester Stallone hated his.’”

LaToya Jackson, Telegraph, 17 Nov 2009

Prince’s mother, dermatology nurse Debbie Rowe, became close to Jackson while treating him for vitiligo, and the pair married in 1996.

“Vitiligo is on my father’s side and Prince has it, too – on his arms and chest,” the singer’s sister La Toya Jackson said in an interview with new! magazine.

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