Black History of Health: Keke Palmer

The condition typically affects those who are within their reproductive years.

Her parents named her Lauren Keyana Palmer, but this talented performer is widely known as Keke. Born to actors, there was no surprise when Palmer followed a similar path. Her first role was in ‘Barbershop 2: Back In Business’ in 2004 but that was quickly followed up with ‘The Wool Cap’ in the same year. It then only took 2 years for her to land her breakthrough performance in the film ‘Akeelah and the Bee’. Since that point, Palmer has had several noteworthy performances in television and film, which led to recognition from the NAACP Image Awards, Emmy Awards, and Screen Actors Guild. 

Over the years, she has also had several stints as a talk show host. Though she usually focuses on acting, Palmer released a debut album in 2006. Ten years later, she embarked on releasing a series of extended plays as well. Throughout her long career, though, she notes that she struggled with unexplained weight gain, facial hair, and chronic acne. Yet, she was only diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome in 2020. 

What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic condition in which a woman’s body produces an excess of the male hormones known as androgens. The condition typically affects those who are within their reproductive years. While some people develop cysts within their reproductive system, others don’t.

As a consequence, the symptoms that they experience can differ but may still include irregular periods, enlarged ovaries, thinning hair, unexplained weight gain around the stomach, and excess body hair. 

The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known but doctors estimate that there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing the illness.

If you have a family history of PCOS, are overweight, have insulin resistance, or have a form of low-grade inflammation in the body, there’s the possibility of being diagnosed with PCOS.

Studies have also shown that Blacks are disproportionately affected by PCOS but the reason for this is not yet clear. 

How The Illness Is Diagnosed

There’s no definitive test for PCOS but doctors can diagnose the illness based on a combination of assessments. Your doctor will ask for your medical history while performing a thorough medical examination. A pelvic exam, for example, should show any abnormalities or growths in your reproductive organs.

Blood tests can be used to measure the level of hormones in your body. These help to exclude other chronic illnesses that may cause the same symptoms as PCOS. Abnormal levels of glucose or triglycerides in your blood can also be used to show that you’re dealing with PCOS.


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