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What is Cushing's syndrome? Amy Schumer's diagnosis prompts 750% spike in web searches — and more health questions Canadians are asking

We answered some of Canada's most-asked health web searches based on this week's top news stories.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Amy Schumer shared she was diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome. (Image via Getty Images)
Amy Schumer shared she was diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome. (Image via Getty Images)

When Canadians have health questions, many of us head online in search of answers—especially when we're looking for more information on headline-making stories.

Recently, some familiar faces opened up about their health struggles —including Amy Schumer. Following online criticism of her appearance as she promoted the new season of her series, "Life & Beth," the 42-year-old comedian revealed she had been diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome. The admission led to a 1,300 per cent increase in web searches from Canadians to better understand the hormone-related condition that can alter your appearance.


What is Cushing's syndrome?

Amy Schumer revealed she was diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome. (Image via Getty Images)
Amy Schumer revealed she was diagnosed with Cushing's Syndrome. (Image via Getty Images)

Cushing syndrome is a hormonal disorder caused by heightened levels of cortisol, the body's main stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands located above your kidneys. Cushing's is a rare, progressive disorder that typically presents itself in people between the ages of 20 and 50.

Cushing's can be caused by an adrenal or pituitary tumour that causes the body to produce too much cortisol, or from taking steroid medications, like prednisone. Although the causes can vary, too much cortisol for a prolonged period of time can cause weight gain in the face (moon face), weight gain in the abdomen while arms and legs remain slim, and a "buffalo hump" which is a fatty lump between the shoulders.

Aside from the physical symptoms of Cushing's, it can cause complications such as high blood pressure, headaches, high blood sugar or diabetes, depression, memory loss, extreme fatigue, trouble sleeping, vision problems and osteoporosis. For women, Cushing's can stop or cause irregular menstruation and cause an excess of dark facial hair called hirsutism; for men, it can cause problems with libido and erectile dysfunction.


What is Gilbert syndrome?

"Bachelor" star Joey Graziadei was diagnosed with Gilbert Syndrome when he was in high school. (Image via Getty Images)
"Bachelor" star Joey Graziadei was diagnosed with Gilbert Syndrome when he was in high school. (Image via Getty Images)

This week, "Bachelor" star Joey Graziadei spoke publicly about living with Gilbert syndrome (pronounced zheel-BAYR), which caused a 300 per cent increase in Canadian web searches about the condition.

On Thursday, the 28-year-old tennis professional took to social media to address online concern over his "yellow eyes." The reality TV star said he was diagnosed with Gilbert Syndrome, a "harmless" liver condition caused by high levels of bilirubin, when he was in high school.

People with Gilbert syndrome have livers that are unable to properly process bilirubin, a waste product produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. It's an inherited condition that is most common in males and requires no treatment.

Bilirubin levels can increase due to intense exercise, having a very low calorie diet and fasting, developing a cold or flu, stress and menstruation.


What are some symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

Tim and Stacey Wakefield, pictured together in 2016. (Image via Getty Images)
Tim and Stacy Wakefield, pictured together in 2016. (Image via Getty Images)

This week, Stacy Wakefield, the widow of Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, died of pancreatic cancer. The 53-year-old's death came just five months after her husband died of brain cancer. The couple are survived by their two children, Trevor and Brianna. Wakefield's death sparked a 1,300 per cent increase in web searches for the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer affects the thin gland behind the stomach that produces fluid to aid in digestion and control blood sugar levels. Pancreatic cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages due to its location in the body. Tumours often go unfelt and unnoticed even during routine physical exams, with no initial symptoms until the cancer grows or spreads to nearby organs.

Back or abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting and blood clots. It is possible for diabetes, specifically Type 3c, to be a symptom of pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer destroys insulin making cells and can cause people to feel thirsty and urinate more often. The onset of diabetes may be a sign something is wrong with the pancreas, prompting further examination.

Survival rates for pancreatic cancer vary by stage. The American Cancer Society states the average number of people who survive five years after initial diagnosis is approximately nine per cent. Patients with stage 4 cancers, meaning cancer that has spread to other parts of the body including the liver, lungs or bones, have a five-year survival rate of three per cent.

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