Selena Gomez Reveals She Has Lupus … but What Is It, Exactly?

People with the chronic autoimmune disease need to modify their lifestyles to manage the condition— which Gomez did amid rehab rumors last year. (Photo: Getty Images)

Selena Gomez made a startling revelation in a new interview: She has lupus.

“I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy,” she told Billboard magazine. The 23-year-old recently took a break from the spotlight, which she says happened so that she could seek medical care for her condition.

“That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke,” she continued.

At the time — in late 2013 and early 2014 — Gomez canceled the Asian and Australian legs of her Stars Dance tour to take some time for herself. This break fueled media rumors that she was battling addiction.

Gomez on the cover of this week’s Billboard magazine, on stands Thursday, Oct. 8. (Photo: Billboard magazine)

“I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes,’” she said. “I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”

Gomez credits her close friend Taylor Swift with helping her through the tough time. “Taylor makes me feel empowered, like I can trust new people,” she told Billboard. “The way she cares about women is so adamant. It’s pulling me out of my shell.”

Gomez and Swift pose with their squad at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in late August. (Photo: Getty Images)

An estimated 1.5 million Americans have lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. The disease can impact anyone, but 90 percent of the people diagnosed with lupus are women — and most develop it between the ages of 15 and 44.

Nick Cannon, Seal, and Toni Braxton also suffer from lupus. But what is it, exactly?

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage any part of a person’s body, Howard R. Smith, MD, director of the Lupus Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Yahoo Health.

With lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system. The immune system of a lupus sufferer can’t differentiate between bacteria, viruses, germs, and the person’s healthy tissue, Smith explains. As a result, the immune system attacks and destroys that healthy tissue.

While lupus has many manifestations (it can involve the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, muscles, blood vessels, and more), Smith says about three out of four people experience issues with their skin and joints.

Korin Miller Writer