Thursday, 15 December 2011

Famous People with Cushing's Disease?

Being a blogger with a TSHoma (a.k.a. TSH-oma,* a.k.a. thyrotropinoma, a.k.a. a freak) has its pros and cons. On the plus side, as far as I can tell I have definitely found a niche in the market - no mean feat, given the number of enthusiastic and generally excellent blogs written by people with everything from diabetes to acromegaly. On the down side, there's none of that nice cosy caring and chit-chat over tea and lanreotide injections that you get from support groups with other people. People who understand how rubbish it is that your heart's going too fast/your hands have grown enormously/your nose just fell off. So being me, I have been ambling around the internet, happily barging into other people's support groups and demanding to be paid attention because I have a tumour on my pituitary gland too.

A little while ago I found the lovely Acromegaly Bloggers, and more recently bumbled across a blogging group for people with Cushing's disease, called Cushie Bloggers. People with Cushing's disease can at least console themselves with the fact that referring to themselves as "cushies" makes them sound incredibly cute and fluffy and generally charming.

But anyway, finding the blog and reading the experiences of some of the bloggers got me thinking: in an earlier post, I went on a hunt for famous people with pituitary adenomas. Obviously there were no cases of TSHoma/thyrotropinoma - that would be too much to hope for. But there's Russell Watson with his unspecified adenoma, and numerous celebs with acromegaly - even more than I included in my post, in fact: acromegalovelies are all over the shop, from Andre the Giant to Pio Pico.

But where are all the famous Cushing's sufferers?

I've found it difficult to find information specifically on the incidence** of Cushing's Disease, probably due in part to the fact that it's a subtype, as it were, of Cushing's Syndrome, accounting for about 70% of endogenous Cushing's syndrome cases. I have found the incidence of such new cases quoted as about 13 cases per million, so we're talking 9 new cases per million per year, compared to an incidence of 3 - 4 new cases of acromegaly per million, per year. So it is seemingly rather more common than acomegaly, although the massive tendency towards underdiagnosis of both illnesses (and TSH-omas as well) makes these rather shaky figures.

Given that it's relatively easy to find well-known figures suffering from acromegaly (even outside the field of sports, where young sufferers' large frames could be considered to give them an attractive advantage in sports like basketball or wrestling) and given that Cushing's is more common, you'd think it would be easier to find a celebrity with Cushing's. (You'd also expect to find people with prolactinomas, but I suspect that (particularly male) celebrities might prefer to generalise prolactinomas as "tumours" rather than publicly imply that they're leaking milk from their manboobs.) Celebrities diagnosed with Cushing's, on the other hand, are (I would have thought) surely be more likely to publicise their condition, to explain that any excess weight gain was not due to greed or laziness but a medical condition.

So where are they all? I've looked around the place and all I can find is a vague hint that Elvis may have had Cushing's syndrome (as distinct from the disease, Cushing's syndrome does not necessarily imply a pituitary tumour, but could be caused by steroid overdose or adrenal tumours etc). If true it would certainly be something of a PR coup for cushies, but one article in the Daily Mail is not much to go on. The Daily Mail seems to have a little bit of a penchant for Cushing's Disease (is there a sufferer amongst the editorial staff?) and I've also found an article suggesting that King Henry VIII may have had Cushing's Disease. Who knows? When it comes to historical figures, it's fun to speculate, but speculation is all it can remain.

The only - literally the only - modern-day sufferer I've found who comes close to the designation of "celebrity" is J. Jordan Bruns, an artist featured in this article - but he's not exactly a household name, lovely though his art is.

Come on cushies, come out from the woodwork!

UPDATE: If you're interested in reading about famous people who suffer from pituitary tumours, see my other posts looking at famous pituitary ademoaners here and here; my post about Russell Watson, the opera singer who had a pituitary tumour; or check out my post looking at famous women with acromegaly.
*Never doubt the power of punctuation. If you search for the wrong one, Google will offer you Tshoki Tshoma's naked photos. Nice.

** I would prefer to write about prevalance but I've found it harder to find figures for that.


  1. There must be some athletes with Cushing's due to steroid abuse. I do not want that for any athlete, but those who abuse steroids run a high risk of Cushing's. Some of them look like they MAY have the disease.

  2. model brittanie weaver has it

  3. dan Hamilton from Hamilton joe frank and Reynolds passed away with this in 1994