Friday, 20 January 2012

More Famous People With Lumps In Their Head.

So it turns out that by far my most popular post on this blog so far is the one entitled "Russell Watson, It's Not All About You". I don't know whether my readers just happen to have enduring personal grievances with Russell Watson, or are simply opera purists who object to his pop-operatic croonings. Or maybe it's something else.

So, I'm faced with a choice. In my relentless pursuit of pageviews, should I begin writing reams of personal abuse about Mr Watson, or simply continue to shine a spotlight on the other pituitary ademoaners of the world?

I choose the latter option, and not just because of Britain's vast and unyielding libel laws.*

And so, I present:

A Panoply of Pituitary Problems, or: More Famous People With Lumps In Their Head.

Once again I must apologise for the preponderance of people with acromegaly on this list! Acromegaly is an extremely rare illness, caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland which produces excessive growth hormone. However, acromegaly's symptoms are so visually striking that, especially if the illness occurs in childhood - when it will lead to massive growth in height (gigantism), as well as the growth of soft tissue and bone which occur in adult acromegaly - its sufferers are very visible. So-called "giants" are in demand for certain roles in the film and television industry, as well as certain sports where their height gives them an advantage. Consequently, it's relatively easy to find famous acromegaly sufferers, while celebrities who suffer from other kinds of pituitary adenoma may keep their diagnosis private.

I certainly think that it would be helpful if there were celebrities who were known to have Cushing's, or prolactinoma; it helps sufferers to feel that they're not alone, and emphasizes the fact that, while a pituitary adenoma can be a significant bloody nuisance, it's not the end of the world - and that there are plenty of other people going through the same problems.

Obviously I think it would be awesome if a famous person was known to have a TSH-oma/thyrotropinoma. But if that doesn't happen, well I guess I'll just have to step up to the celebrity line!**

Anyway, back to the point. Presenting:

Carel Struycken
Carel Struycken is an actor and an acromegaly sufferer; he stands seven foot tall. Born in the Netherlands in 1948, he's now 63 years old. You might recognise him from playing Lurch in the Addams Family films (click here for a picture!); he's also appeared in Star Trek: the Next Generation, Men In Black, and even Sargeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. According to my trusty Wikipedia, he's interested in photography and the development of virtual reality systems. A pretty cool guy by all standards!

Richard Kiel
Richard Kiel is another well-known actor who suffers from acromegaly; his most famous role was as Jaws in the James Bond films. He's now largely retired, although he voiced a character in the animated film Tangled which came out in 2010, and he's written two books; one a memoir entitled Making It Big In The Movies, the second a historical novel co-authored with Pamela Wallace, about the life of Cassius Marcellus Clay, a 19th-Century abolitionist.

Scott Hamilton
Scott Hamilton, the Olympic gold medallist figure skater, is a craniopharyngioma sufferer. I've not previously mentioned craniopharyngiomas, but like pituitary adenomas they're a rare kind of benign pituitary tumour. They cause similar symptoms to pituitary adenomas; they can interfere with hormone production, although they will cause hormone deficits rather than overproduction of pituitary hormones, and they cause headaches and vision loss. They're most common in children and middle-aged adults; Scott Hamilton was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma aged 51. A remarkable guy, Hamilton won four consecutive World Championships and created Stars On Ice.

Hamilton's last performance on Stars On Ice

UPDATE: For those of you who just can't get enough of hearing about famous people with pituitary tumours, I've also written a post about famous people with Cushing's Disease, a post about famous women with acromegaly, my original post about Russell Watson that sparked this whole thing off, and my first post about famous tumourheads!
*Russell Watson, I love you.

**Admittedly, I haven't quite worked out how I'll achieve fame. Through my own line of edible greetings cards? By streaking at the London Olympics? For my charitable work with walruses? Ideas on a postcard please.


  1. Hello there! I am glad to stop by your site and know more about pituitary tumor. Keep it up! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about pituitary tumor.
    The posterior lobe (the neural lobe or neurohypophysis) of the pituitary gland is not, despite its name, a true gland. The posterior lobe contains axons of neurons that extend from the hypothalamus to which it is connected via the pituitary stalk. The hormones vasopressin and oxytocin, produced by the neurons of the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus, are stored in the posterior lobe and released from axon endings (dendrites) within the lobe.
    Because the pituitary gland is responsible for the production of hormones key to proper body function, tumors often interfere with this production—either by limiting the amount of hormone produced or generating excessive amounts. Growth hormone (regulates body height and structure), prolactin (controls lactation, or milk production), sex hormones (control the menstrual cycle and other sexual functions), thyroid gland hormones (control the thyroid gland), adrenal gland hormones, and vasopressin (a hormone involved in water and electrolyte balance) are all examples of hormones that can be affected. Growing tumors can also push on surrounding structures, often resulting in headaches, behavioral changes, and vision problems.

    pituitary tumor

  2. Hello!

    My name is Paul and I work with a non-profit organization called The Pituitary Network Association. Is there any way I can speak to you via e-mail? I would love to get to know your story more.

    1. Hi Paul! Sorry for the slow reply, I've actually started writing a new blog elsewhere so I don't check this as regularly as I should! You can contact me at:

  3. ..thanks for your explanations of pit tumors and the positive energy examples of those who can still have 'successes' in their lives in spite of their diagnosis' pit tumor was diagnosed finally in the early 1980s mostly due to my own investigation and research/pre-internet...still lactating post prior childbirth 6 yrs earlier a MRI finally revealed my non-functioning tumor....coupled with debilitating headaches my case was managed mostly by blood work and meds/parlodel until 1996 when it had begun to 'grow' creating more havoc in my optical chiasm area....I chose surgery for removal and have spent the last almost-20 yrs educating myself...I am convinced the tumor was at least partially created by the deteriorating condition of my almost-20 various mercury & heavy metal filled cavities, fillings and root canals that virtually every 'child of the '40s & '50s' owns...I have now spent the last 4.5 years having these fillings removed and am feeling wonderful these 'faulty' pituitary tumor has also added to my incidence of type 2 diabetes....but that remains to be proven when I get to Heaven and inquire ! Along the way I also found Robert Knutzen and the Pituitary Network mentioned above....I cannot overemphasize the presence of heavy metal, mercury, gold and silver fillings as a precursor to this pituitary tumor development...but mostly I am so thrilled to see publicity and your blog and others' such as these continuing to educate....Thank You...Paula in