Amy Schumer Has Cushing Syndrome

Following comments about the “puffy” appearance of her face, comedian Amy Schumer has revealed that she’s been diagnosed with Cushing syndrome.

After an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon led to a bombardment of judgemental comments about the “puffiness” of her face, actor Amy Schumer took to social media to clap back at trolls and point to her endometriosis as the cause.

Soon, however, she realized something else was wrong.

At the end of last week, Schumer shared in the News Not Noise newsletter that she has since been diagnosed with exogenous Cushing syndrome, brought on by getting steroid injections in high doses.

“There are a few types of Cushing. Some that can be fatal, require brain surgery or removal of adrenal glands,” Schumer said in the newsletter. “So finding out I have the kind of Cushing that will just work itself out and I'm healthy was the greatest news imaginable.”

While the internet was far from kind about her appearance, Schumer said the feedback was — in a sense — a blessing in disguise.

“Aside from fears about my health, I also had to be on camera having the internet chime in,” she said in the newsletter. “But thank God for that. Because that's how I realized something was wrong.”

She said she chose to share the personal information about her health in the hopes that it might empower women to advocate on their own behalf in medical settings.

“The shaming and criticism of our ever-changing bodies is something I have dealt with and witnessed for a long time,” Schumer said. “I want so much for women to love themselves and be relentless when fighting for their own health in a system that usually doesn't believe them.”

What is Cushing syndrome?

Cushing syndrome, also called hypercortisolism, is a rare hormonal disorder in which an individual has extremely high levels of cortisol circulating — a steroid and stress hormone — for an extended period of time. It can either be exogenous or endogenous.

Exogenous Cushing syndrome is the most common form of the illness and is caused by extended use of steroid hormones, while the endogenous type is caused by excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal glands.

According to preventative cardiology dietitian Michelle Routhenstein, who has ample experience treating individuals with Cushing syndrome, symptoms of the illness often include weight gain — especially in the upper body and face with thin arms and legs, easy bruising, purple stretch marks on the abdomen, fatty lump between the shoulders, excessive hair growth in women, and irregular menstrual periods. Sometimes this is also accompanied by extreme fatigue, mood swings, depression, high blood pressure, and headaches, she tells Healthnews.

“Cushing's syndrome can have significant physical and psychological impacts, including central obesity, muscle weakness, bone loss, diabetes, mood swings, depression, and cognitive difficulties, which can limit a person's quality of life and daily functioning,” Routhenstein says. “The associated health complications can pose serious risks if left untreated.”

Diagnosing Cushing syndrome typically involves a number of tests, she explains, including measuring cortisol levels in the blood, assessing cortisol metabolites in urine, and conducting imaging tests like MRI or CT scans to detect abnormalities in the pituitary or adrenal glands.

In the newsletter, Schumer said she spent hours in MRI machines and had her “veins shut down from the amount of blood drawn” while seeking a diagnosis.

Treatment for Cushing syndrome depends on the underlying cause, Routhenstein says, ranging from surgical tumor removal to medications that block cortisol production or radiation therapy, with the goal of normalizing cortisol levels and relieving symptoms.

Lifestyle management is also important, she adds, and includes adopting a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress reduction techniques, and fostering a strong support network — all of which contribute to symptom management, overall well-being improvement, and enhanced quality of life.

Routhenstein agrees that Schumer's story helps normalize health challenges and creates a supportive environment where individuals feel empowered to seek help and speak out.

She says, “Encouraging open dialogue about health conditions and normalizing them is crucial as it fosters understanding, empathy, and reduces stigma."

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