One out of five adults worldwide may have a non-cancerous tumor of their pituitary gland, and at least one-third of these pituitary tumors may be clinically active and causing significant health problems, according to results of a new study presented today at the 10th Annual Meeting and Clinical Congress of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). The findings are based on an analysis of 12 published studies on the prevalence of pituitary tumors, conducted by clinicians experienced in the management of pituitary disorders. "The results confirm that pituitary disorders are more common than previously thought, and suggest that many people are living with an undiagnosed condition that may affect every part of their lives, from appearance and sexual function to their emotional and general health," said Sylvia Asa, MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Toronto; Pathologist in Chief, University Health Network and Toronto Medical Laboratories; and Incoming President, Pituitary Network Association (PNA). For instance, untreated patients with acromegaly, a pituitary disease that results in serious changes in appearance and metabolic complications, have a mortality rate that is two to four times higher than average, a figure comparable to those of diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Patients affected by pituitary disease are also at increased risk for life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. "This study is a wake-up call for anyone who perceives pituitary tumors as rare," said acromegaly patient Robert Knutzen, CEO and Chairman of the Pituitary Network Association, an international non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and information to patients with pituitary disorders and the health care providers who treat them. Pituitary diseases are usually caused by non-cancerous tumors located on the pituitary gland, a small, bean-shaped gland situated in a bony hollow at the brain's base. This "master gland" is the most important of the endocrine glands because it regulates and controls the secretion of hormones that have a dramatic and broad range of effects on metabolism, growth and development, sexuality and reproductive functions. As a result of these tumors, any one of more than a dozen possible pituitary disorders may occur, such as acromegaly, growth hormone deficiency, hyperprolactinemia or Cushing's syndrome. Common symptoms of pituitary disorders include irregular menses, sexual dysfunction, infertility, changes in physical appearance and unexplained mood changes. To find more information about pituitary disorders and to assess whether you may be at risk, log on to the Pituitary Network Association Web site "We encourage individuals who are experiencing symptoms to aggressively seek testing and, if diagnosed, to obtain appropriate treatment from a qualified medical expert, namely an endocrinologist or hormone specialist," said Mr. Knutzen. The mission of the Pituitary Network Association is to support, pursue, encourage, promote and where possible, fund research on pituitary tumors and related pituitary disorders in a sustained and full-time effort to find cures for these illnesses.