What is the link between Cushing's Syndrome and diabetes? Is it true that excessive steroid use can lead to Cushing's Syndrome which includes diabetes-like symptoms or is it genuine diabetes?
The only link between Cushing's Syndrome and Diabetes is that in both conditions there is a rise in blood sugar and glucose in the urine. Cushing's Syndrome is a disorder characterised by a moon face, truncal obesity, muscle wasting, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and glucosuria. It is caused either by excessive production of adrenal steroids due to a tumour or hyperplasia or to an imbalance with the pituitary gland. It can also be caused as a result of the chronic administration of cortisone for asthma and a variety of inflammatory conditions. Glucocorticoids promote the conversion, mostly in the liver, of protein to glucose, a process known as gluconeogenesis. When this process exceeds the ability of the pancreas' insulin to balance it, blood sugars rise and excess glucose is lost in the urine; but this is not true [genetic] diabetes.
If you are already diabetic however, whether or not it is yet recognisable clinically, the administration of steroids pharmacologically can further increase blood sugar levels and precipitate or exaggerate clinical symptoms.
[Editor's comment: The new classification of diabetes lists Cushing's Syndrome as one of the "Other Specific Types" of diabetes, that is, diabetes "caused by other identifiable etiologies" (in this case, excess amounts of steroid hormone). WWQ]
Original posting 12 Jun 1998
Posted to Other Illnesses
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:58
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