Brittany Murphy eating disorderThey can have devastating—and sometimes irreversible—effects. The question Glamour health editors heard most after Brittany Murphy’s death: Could an eating disorder have caused it? We may never know for sure, but what we do know is that anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder can have serious and wide-ranging effects. Just a few of the consequences: Infertility  Not having enough body fat can halt ovulation; having too much can throw hormones out of whack. The good news is that for many women, fertility returns once they get healthy, and they don’t suffer any long-term problems, says Walter H. Kaye, M.D., director of the University of California, San Diego, eating disorders program. Heart Problems  Anorexia literally starves the heart, making it weaker; dehydration from vomit-ing may cause electrolyte imbalances that can lead to cardiac arrest. Most of the damage is reversible once a woman reaches a healthy weight. Tooth Loss  Women who frequently make themselves throw up suffer cavities and tooth loss, as stomach acid erodes enamel. “Can you imagine having dentures in your thirties? I’ve seen it,” says Jennifer Nardozzi, Psy.D., national training manager of the Renfrew Center eating disorders clinics. Bloating  Eating disorders result in a host of digestive problems, from heartburn to constipation, many of which lead to abdominal swelling—something that, ironically, can make someone with a bad body image feel worse. Bingeing and purging also overstimulate salivary glands. “This can make the face swell, giving someone a ‘chipmunk cheek’ look,” says Nardozzi. Medication Overdose  Typical drug doses are based on people of normal weight, so severely underweight women can overdose by accident. (Murphy reportedly had several different prescription medications in her home.) “Society applauds skinny stars, but there shouldn’t be such a fine line between looking ‘glamorous’ and being ill,” says Lynn Grefe, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association. The simple truth: Eating disorders are serious—and any woman who’s suffering needs our support. Article by Glamour.