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Amy Schumer Says She Has Cushing’s Syndrome

Social media speculation on her looks prompts comedian to seek diagnosis of the hormone disorder

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Comedian and actress Amy Schumer says she has been diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome, which, according to the National Institutes of Health, is a disorder that occurs when the body has too much of the hormone cortisol for a prolonged period. 

Schumer, 42, revealed her diagnosis in an interview with the News Not Noise newsletter. She said she “realized something was wrong” when she heard comments about her looks after she appeared on The Tonight Show and Good Morning America.

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She said that while she was promoting the new season of her Hulu series, Life & Beth, she was “also in MRI machines four hours at a time, having my veins shut down from the amount of blood drawn and thinking I may not be around to see my son grow up.”

When doctors told her she has Cushing’s syndrome, she said, she was relieved to discover the condition should not pose a serious threat to her health. “Finding out I have the kind of Cushing that will just work itself out and I’m healthy was the greatest news imaginable. It has been a crazy couple weeks for me and my family,” she told the newsletter.

What is Cushing’s syndrome?

Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the body has an excess of cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone,” over a long time. The syndrome can either be caused by long-term, high-dose use of cortisol-like medications, such as glucocorticoids, or in some cases, the body can make too much cortisol.

Cortisol has an important role in the body, helping to maintain blood pressure and blood sugar levels and to turn food into energy. But when the body has too much of it, problems can arise.

The two types of Cushing’s syndrome are defined by the cause, according to the Cleveland Clinic:

  • Endogenous — from cortisol produced from within the body
  • Exogenous — because of side effects of medications

News Not Noise said that in Schumer’s case, the exogenous Cushing’s disorder was “brought on by getting steroid injections in high doses.”

The disorder most often affects adults ages 30 to 50, according to the NIH, and occurs in three times as many women as men.

What are symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome?

Symptoms are most common and prominent in those who have had high levels of cortisol for a long period. They include:

  • Weight gain
  • Round features, sometimes called “moon face”
  • Increased fat around the base of the neck
  • A fatty hump between the shoulders
  • Easy bruising
  • Weak muscles
  • Wide, purple stretch marks, mainly on the abdomen, breasts, hips and under the arms

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How is it diagnosed?

Doctors can use blood tests and imaging tests. The most common imaging tests to diagnose the condition are computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

In the interview, Schumer said she had both blood tests and an MRI scan.  

What is the treatment?

Treatment depends on the cause of the syndrome and can include surgery, radiation or medications. If the cause is long-term use of steroids to treat another disorder, doctors can reduce medication dosage.

It’s unclear what medications Schumer was taking and whether they were to treat her endometriosis, a diagnosis she has discussed in the past, or another health problem.

Schumer strikes back against comments on women’s looks 

While promoting the new season of Life & Beth, Schumer responded on Instagram to the barrage of comments with her typical sarcastic wit.

“Thank you so much for everyone’s input about my face! I’ve enjoyed feedback and deliberation about my appearance as all women do for almost 20 years. And you’re right it is puffier than normal right now.”

The Trainwreck star originally said there were some “hormonal things going on in my world right now but I’m ok” and encouraged women to read about endometriosis (see box below).

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Schumer said in her interview with News Not Noise that women should stand up for themselves.

“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,” she said.

In addition to encouraging women to become educated about their health, Schumer’s Instagram post pointed out that she shouldn’t need to make excuses for her appearance.

“I also believe a woman doesn’t need any excuse for her physical appearance and owes no explanation. But I wanted to take the opportunity to advocate for self love [sic] and acceptance of the skin you’re in.”

The 2023 AARP Mirror Mirror survey found that the majority of women say they experience discrimination regularly. The poll of 6,643 women found that the discrimination was based on ageism, skin tone/ethnicity and weight. The women reported feeling the need to adjust their appearance, with about 40 percent of respondents saying they feel pressure from social media to do cosmetic procedures such as Botox and dermal fillers to improve the look of their faces.

Women are increasingly pushing back against comments about their looks. Actress and Family Ties star Justine Bateman recently told that women should “opt out of the idea that their faces are broken and have to be fixed.”

Bateman’s new book, Face: One Square Foot of Skin, “grew out of this idea.”

Schumer said that like most women, she sometimes feels terrific and other days like “I want to put a bag over my head.” Overall, she said, she is “strong and beautiful” and proud of her TV show.

“Everyone is struggling with something. Maybe we can all be a little kinder to each other and ourselves,” she told News Not Noise.

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