michael jackson - oprah winfreyMillions of ignorant people have been addressing to Michael Jackson as "the singer who whitened his skin" or "the black who repudiated his race" during the last 20 years. Once again, let's tell the truth about Michael's color!
In 1993, during his famous interview with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Michael revealed that the cause of his much talked about change in skin color was due to the skin disorder called Vitiligo. Not much is known to the general public about Vitiligo.


What Is Vitiligo?
Vitiligo is a genetic, pigmentation disorder in which melanocytes (the pigment making cells) in the skin are destroyed. People with Vitiligo develop white spots on the skin that vary in size and location. The disease affects both sexes and all races. The distinctive patches of discoloration are most noticeable in people with darker skin tones. Approximately 0.5% – 1% of the world's population are affected Vitiligo. Vitiligo can start at any age but about half of those with vitiligo develop it before the age of 20, and about 95% before age 40.
What Causes Vitiligo?
Research has shown that in most cases of vitiligo the body’s own immune system is attacking the melanocytes leaving the hallmark depigmented, patches of white. This leads researchers to believe it is an autoimmune condition. Vitiligo, as with many autoimmune diseases will often appear or will be triggered to spread after a significant emotional event in the person’s life, such as an illness, change in location, divorce, death in the family, or even a job change. All of these types of events as well as physical trauma, place stress on the immune system weakening it and leaving it more vulnerable and open for the vitiligo gene to get a foothold.

Vitiligo is a progressive condition, but the progression or severity of pigment loss is unique to each individual. For some people the depigmentation spreads slowly, over many years. For others, the spreading will occur rapidly. There is no way to predict how much pigment a person will lose.
Treatment Options
Though there is no cure for vitiligo at this time, researchers are closing in on blocking the immune response that results in pigment loss. In the meantime there are viable treatments available such as Phototherapy, Sunlight, Topical Therapies, Surgical Therapies, Depigmentation
For more information on vitiligo, please visit Vitiligo Support International, Inc.
A parallel story: Vitiligo turns anchor-man white
Lee Thomas is an anchor and entertainment reporter for US tv channel WJBK in Detroit. He was diagnosed with vitiligo - the same disease that Michael Jackson is suffering from - when he was 25. Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which pigment-making cells in the skin are destroyed. White patches appear on different parts of the body. As many as 30 million people worldwide have the disorder. But only few people, outside medical professionals and those with the disease, had heard the term "Vitiligo" until Michael Jackson revealed in the early 1990s that the disorder was behind his skin turning brown to white.
Viiligo is not fatal, but it robs people of self-confidence, evokes ridicule and unpleasant stares, and pushes some into unforced seclusion. Thomas' once brown, even complexion is now mottled with pale patches around his eyes and mouth, along his nose and on his ears. His arms, shoulders and chest are also speckled and blotched. He says: "I'm a black man turning white on television and people can see it. If you've watched me over the years, you've seen my hands completely change from brown to white. There is no cause. There is no cure, and it's very random. I could turn all the way white or mostly white."
Thomas uses a combination of creams and makeup to cover the growing patches of skin on his face, hands and arms. Until 2005, only family members and those closest to him knew the secret he had kept since age 25. He first noticed a change after getting a haircut while working in Louisville, Ky. He looked in a mirror and thought the barber had nicked him. A closer look revealed a pale spot, about the size of a quarter. "I got two more on the other side of my scalp, on my hand and one in the corner of my mouth. That's when I went to the doctor and got diagnosed."
But he didn't let it slow down his blossoming career. In Detroit he has carved a niche with his quirky, upbeat and humorous reporting style. His confidence, constant smile and positive air on the set mirrors his demeanor off the set as well. Meanwhile he even received an Emmy and routinely travels to Hollywood for one-on-one interviews with celebrities including Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and Halle Berry. But even though Thomas used makeup to conceal his skin discoloration, he realized that vitiligo was becoming more obvious when he couldn't hide it from a preschooler during a story about a playground.
His two-toned hands frightened the girl, who began to cry. "I thought my career was over." So he gathered himself one day and approached the station's news director, prepared to walk away from tv: "She said, 'Let's just see what happens. As it got worse, she kept encouraging me to tell my story." So Thomas finally agreed to tell his story on tv in November 2005. Dana Hahn, WJBK's vice president of news, recalls: "I received 40 to 50 e-mails a day the entire time he was gone. So many people found support and encouragement in his story. I've never seen the kind of response to any story in my 12 years at Fox 2."

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