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Famous people with Acromegaly

Updated on September 7, 2009

acromegalic face

This man displays the classic facial characteristics of acromegaly.
This man displays the classic facial characteristics of acromegaly.

Famous people with acromegaly

Patients with disfiguring illnesses often encounter dramatic changes to their physical appearance. Such is the case with acromegaly; a disorder of the endocrine glands caused by increased growth hormone secretion. In most cases, this step-up occurs as a result of a benign tumor on the pituitary gland and most commonly effects middle aged men and women between the ages of 30 and 50 years old. Other than a prior history of pituitary tumors, there are no other known risk factors and is often not readily apparent due to nature of the disease's slow progression.

In the acromegalic patient, there is a gradual and slow increase in bone and tissue growth. Some of the most notable symptoms include the following:

  1. Increase in the size of the hands and feet

  2. Enlargement of the nose, lips and eye ridge

  3. Increased spacing between the teeth

  4. Broadening of the chin, Jaw, and cheekbones

  5. Thickened, oily skin

  6. Coarsening of the hair

  7. Thickened tongue and soft tissue of the mouth resulting in sleep apnea and deepening of the voice.

  8. Barrel Chest

These are but a few of the most noticeable external changes. Often, people don't notice until it is brought to their attention by comparison of past and present photographs. Even then, people assume the changes are a normal part of aging and fail to have themselves examined by a physician.

Although it is a rare disease, it is not as if most of the world have not been introduced to many of it's victims whose faces graced the silver screens of the past and present. Most of us remember them most by the name of their character as opposed to their names;

  1. Lurch from the Adams family played by Carel Struyken

  2. Herman Munster played by Fred Gwynne

  3. Andre the Giant

  4. Jaws from the Bond Movies played by Richard Kiel

  5. Svetlana Singh-India's tallest woman

  6. Paul Wright aka The big show

  7. Tanya Angus-well known activist for the illness

  8. The late Kevin Aucoin- well renown make up artist

  9. De Fen Yao -the worlds tallest woman

With the exception of the last three names mentioned, all of the people were cast as “freaks” of some sort which makes it that much more difficult for the real live victims of this illness. I commend them for turning a negative into a positive. Yet, I could only imagine how it would feel to have someone randomly walk up to me, and tell me that I look like Lurch from the Adams family. Often onlookers forget the humanity of these people and do some very unseemily, cruel things. They gawk, stare and sometimes point. If the patient is a woman, her femininity is questioned aloud as people assess her hands and feet, with squeels of laughter while whispering and staring. Hopefully, you have never been so cruel.

Treatment options for acromegaly include removal of the offending tumor, radiation treatments, and pharmacological therapy, tailored to meet the symptomatic needs of the patient. The goal of treatment is removal of the tumor in order to alleviate the pressure on the pituitary glad, reduce and return to normal the secretion of the growth hormone, and to reduce or improve symptoms of acromegaly. In addition, there are now plastic surgeons who can perform restorative and corrective surgery, although it is somewhat costly.

The goal of this article is to spread awareness of this illness and in turn prevent at least one victim from potential ridicule. Just as it is rude to stare, it is also rude to comment. Yet it doesn't stop most from doing so. The euphemisms; unusual looking, strange face, interesting face, disfigured, distinctive features, facial difference, weird looking may make you feel better about the condition but for the person with acromegaly, they can be psychologically debilitating. Please, pass the word along.


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      Anonymous 10 months ago

      My dad had it I think I may to have it , but I'm not really sure. Maybe I should get my self tested.

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      Pakistani 22 months ago

      In what age can a man suffer from the disease Acromegaly?

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      American 23 months ago

      I have this full blown,had the surgery 3 yrs ago. Kept telling my "so-called" doc about the migrain headaches. And he only got serious when my hormone levels flucuated and all but told me I was taking to much. Also,he did not react till 4 yrs later. He already had me on hormone therapy,because of low hormone levels. My surgeres before the brain tumor removal where. Back,neck and both knees replaced. Now,every disc space in my back is collapsed,2 in my neck and my ortho told me. I have to have all this done again due to bone deteriation and pain. The pain is extremely intense,at times-unbearible. I had to wait 2 dam yrs to be eligible for my medicaire. And still do not have medicaire. The reason for this is,I MADE TO MUCH MONEY WHEN I WORKED. Only one rep from SSA told me the truth. The others I talked to could not even speak proper english. The system is NOT set up for the working class but,for the freeloaders,living off GA. I cannot even get asisstance of eny king because I made to much money. BTW I worked 35 yrs. Do not let your doctor bleed you dry by treating you with hormones,get checked if you have these symptoms. The clincher to the story is,I am going to be fined by the feds for not having insurance because I dam sure can't afford ins. Hey barry,what about people like myself? Nevermind,he doesn't give a good dam about the middles-working class. One more thing,the DEA has put restricutions on pain meds because of the abuse from bogus medicaid docs giving pain meds to those that sell them on the streets for money. The illegels are destroying our medical care in the country as well,all their medical care is free,thank the tax payers.

      Spek,God bless you.

      Kuwait,I hope you can get some help soon,good luck.


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      Speck 2 years ago

      My husband has passed away from pneumonia. He had acromegaly discovered when he was 18 years old. He had surgery to remove the pituitary and then had to take hormone replacement: thyroid, cortisone and testosterone. He then several years later had a transphenodal surgery (I don't think he needed that, because everyone needs some growth hormone.) Then several years later he had the metal implants of radiation (don't think he needed that either).

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      From Kuwait 5 years ago

      I have acromegaly I discovered this last year and I'm 18 now I'm 5,8 but my hands is 9 inches and I wear shoe size 12 but doctors here in kuwait are so fools that they always do me some test to see that I have high blood glucose and need to quit sugar ,, this is suffering with my fuck-ed country in medicine...

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      Julio Tejada 6 years ago

      Last June/2011 I was diagnosed with acromegaly, after discovering some of the symptoms by my Family Doctor, who ordered some blood works specifically for Growth Hormone (GH)as well as X-Rays and MRI, after she asked herself the questions of whyso many problems with my health. It concluded that I have secretions of hormone growth 3 times the normal amount. X-Rays showed the Pitituary gland was seated on a doble bed on the turkish saddle, as well as size of the said gland,

      I wonder, why the Neurosurgeon is so obsesed in performing the surgery, which I think could be treated with medications to get control of the excesive secretions.I would like to receive any feedback on this matter. I feel very depresed and helpless.

      My e-mail:

      Sincerely Julio Tejada

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      DOC 6 years ago

      Some of those celebrities had giganticism not acromegaly, the cause is the same but giganticism begins at a young age and acromegaly usually starts after the long bones of the body have stopped growing.

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      Eric 6 years ago

      I think Russian boxer Klichko is also have acromegaly. BTW more info about this disease -

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      mark wilson 7 years ago

      em i hawing a acromegaly i am 25 old and still growing i am 7 foot 2

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      Tina 7 years ago

      "Avid Learner", I truly commend you on your Acromegaly article because it's written with compassion...I like that. I'm currently setting up the official website of Tanya Angus. Please come visit!