Bearded lady

Bearded lady

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Credit: CHRIS HELLIER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Bearded lady. Portrait of Barbara Urselin, a 17th century German bearded lady, playing the harpsichord. Urselin is said to have had soft curly blonde hair all over her body. Hirsutism (excessive hairiness) is caused by abnormally high levels of male hormones in the blood, which stimulate the growth of body hair. Several conditions can cause hirsutism, including adrenal hyperplasia (a rare genetic condition), adrenal tumour and polycystic ovary syndrome. Engraving by Caulfield (1790).

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