Cushing's syndrome is a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body's tissues to high levels of the hormone cortisol. Sometimes called hypercortisolism, Cushing's syndrome occurs when the body's tissues are exposed to high levels of cortisol for too long. Many people develop Cushing's syndrome because they take glucocorticoids - steroid hormones that are chemically similar to naturally produced cortisol - such as prednisone for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other inflammatory disease. Glucocorticoids are also used to supress the immune system after transplantation to keep the body from rejecting the new organ or tissue. Other people develop Cushing's syndrome because their bodies produce too much cortisol.
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