Rap star Missy Elliott revealed last Friday that she has the thyroid affliction – Graves’ Disease. The singer who came to fame in the 1990’s with songs such as ‘Get Ur Freak On’ and ‘Work It’ had not released an album since 2005’s ‘The Cookbook’. The speculation was that the delay was down to the fact that she had had the disease since early 2008, however, Missy talked about the disease in an interview for the VH1 cable show “Behind the Music” airing this Wednesday 29thJune, saying “I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease about three years ago, but it really hasn’t slowed me down at all.”
Graves Disease is thought to be caused by the immune system which produces an antibody that interacts with the cells of the thyroid and stimulates them to secrete excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland overproduces the hormone thyroxine, which can affect a person’s appearance and energy level. The disease is one of the most common problems of the thyroid gland, especially among women aged 30 to 50. The disease is incurable, but symptoms can be handled with treatment, ongoing medication and a change of diet..
Symptoms of Graves Disease include weight loss, increased appetite, diarrhoea, tremors and shaking, irritability and emotional upsets, profuse sweating, dislike of hot weather, itching, reddening and thickening of the skin, typically over the shins and infrequent periods. Another very recognisable sign of Graves’ disease is a problem with the eyes, especially bulging eyes and retracted (or pulled back) upper eyelids. This is known as Graves’ ophthalmopathy and it affects up to one in three of those with Graves’ disease (although not everyone with the condition has it very badly). There may also be a goitre (or swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck) and swelling of the tissues over the front of the shins.
Graves Disease may be genetic and it can run in families. It is also linked to auto immune conditions such as insulin independent diabetes and anaemia so if a person has either of these they are at an increased risk of contracting Graves.
Thankfully Missy Elliott’s condition has recently improved. “Under my doctor’s supervision, I’ve been off medication for about a year and I’m completely managing the condition through diet and exercise.” she said. In fact, since being diagnosed with the disease Missy has been busy touring Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia and has been writing for other artists such as Keyshia Cole. Let’s hope she stays well. For more information on Graves Disease visit thyroid.org