Before the tumour (left)
A 20 year old student, Lizzie Denison-Ward who piled on 38kg in two years despite eating just 1,000 calories a day found out her weight gain was caused by a brain tumour.
When Lizzie started gaining weight, her doctors thought it was her metabolism slowing down and advised her to adopt a healthier diet.
But she continued to gain weight, going from 57kg to an incredible 102kg (up to 10 dresses higher) two years later. Lizzie said she looked like she was ' suffering from an allergic reaction'.
After researching her symptoms online, Miss Denison-Ward paid for an MRI scan privately - which revealed a tumour in her brain (Pituitary adenoma).
The growth was pressing on her pituitary gland, causing her to produce excess cortisol - a stress hormone - which causes fat to be stored in the body.
When excess cortisol is produced in the body, it causes a condition known as Cushing's syndrome.
After the tumour was removed, Lizzie's weight started 'melting away'.
Cushing's syndrome manifests with weight gain, thinning skin, stretch marks, muscle or bone weakness, a thick pad of fat between the shoulders (buffalo's hump) and decreased libido.
If left untreated, Cushings's syndrome can cause high blood pressure which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. It also has a five-year mortality rate.
Cushing's syndrome can also occur as a side effect of treatments for inflammation and autoimmune conditions.The main treatment is to stop taking the medication that is causing it or to remove the tumour. If these options are not available, medication can be used to counter the effects of high cortisol levels.