Navigation Links
JFK's Health Problems More Complex Than Thought
Date:8/31/2009

President suffered from a rare autoimmune condition, new report finds

MONDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- The complicated medical history of John F. Kennedy still exerts a pull on medical sleuths nearly 50 years after the former president's death.

A new report by a U.S. Navy physician claims that Kennedy suffered from a more complex endocrine problem than the Addison's disease he was diagnosed with as a young man.

In the Sept. 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Lee Mandel, senior medical officer aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, writes that Kennedy suffered from autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2 (APS-2), a rare disorder that can lead to Addison's disease, hypothyroidism and other glandular diseases.

Mandel based his findings on the voluminous medical records now open to the public at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston.

"Kennedy had more medical issues than most of us were aware of," said Mandel, a specialist in internal medicine and an amateur historian. "But he got the job done despite all of those conditions. I admire the man."

Kennedy's first bout with adrenal disease was in the 1940s. On a trip to England in 1947, Kennedy, then a congressman from Massachusetts, collapsed. A physician diagnosed Addison's, an adrenal gland defect, and told Kennedy's friends that he had less than a year to live. Kennedy returned to the United States, where he began treatment with first-generation steroids.

Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones, especially cortisol, which has many major functions, among them maintaining blood pressure, cardiovascular function and healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Symptoms of Addison's include fatigue, extreme weakness and substantial weight loss, all of which Kennedy experienced before he started therapy.

Kennedy's doctor's also believed that he had hypothyroidism, or insufficient thyroid hormone. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include depression, a puffy face and joint and muscle pain.

"There's a common thread to all of these conditions," deduced Mandel. "All I did was pick up the clues that were out there anyway."

According to Mandel, the thread was APS 2, also known as Schmidt syndrome. APS 2 is an autoimmune disorder, sometimes running in families, in which the body is unable to produce several essential hormones. Many APS 2 patients have problems with their sex glands, pancreas and digestive system. The American Academy of Family Physicians estimates that APS 2 affects five out of every 100,000 people in the United States.

Mandel found another set of clues in two of Kennedy's relatives. According to Mandel, Kennedy's younger sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who recently died at the age of 88, had Addison's disease. His son, John Jr., had Graves' disease, another autoimmune condition.

"Approximately one half of patients with APS 2 have relatives with autoimmune diseases," added Mandel.

Since APS 2 was not described until 1980, Kennedy's physicians may not have suspected a unifying disease connecting his endocrine problems. Furthermore, treatment for APS 2 is the same as for Addison's. So, the new diagnosis does not mean that Kennedy was necessarily sicker than his physicians knew or less able to carry out his presidential duties, said Mandel.

"It just means that now we may have a better understanding of his health problems," Mandel said. "Remarkably, John F. Kennedy managed to convey an image of health and vigor."

Dr. Paul Margulies, medical director of the National Adrenal Diseases Foundation and a practicing endocrinologist from Manhasset, N.Y., agreed with Mandel's findings and recalled how careful Kennedy's doctors were to keep the president's true condition from the public.

JFK enjoyed a level of privacy (many would say secrecy) unknown to politicians today. By contrast, Senator Ted Kennedy, the president's youngest brother who was buried Aug. 29, fought brain cancer in a very public way, beginning with the announcement of his diagnosis in May 2008.

The president's endocrinologist and most important physician was Dr. Eugene Cohen, who kept JFK's secret for years after his assassination in 1963. "I knew Gene Cohen in the 1970s," said Margulies. "Even then he was very circumspect."

More information

The National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service has more on Addison's disease and similar conditions.



SOURCES: Capt. Lee Mandel, M.D., M.P.H., U.S. Navy; Paul Margulies, M.D., medical director, National Adrenal Diseases Foundation, endocrinologist, Manhasset, N.Y.; Sept. 1, 2009, Annals of Internal Medicine


'/>"/>
Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Penn study finds pro-death proteins required to regulate healthy immune function
2. UCLA researchers identify markers that may predict diabetes in still-healthy people
3. Air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk indices in healthy young adults
4. More proof needed of safety and quality of electronic personal health records
5. Health care incentive model offers collaborative approach
6. Loneliness is bad for your health
7. Mailman School of Public Health study examines link between racial discrimination and substance use
8. Green Tea May Brew Up Healthier Skin
9. For Health Info, Women Often Turn to the Web
10. Record Number of Americans Lack Health Insurance
11. U.S. Research Funding Continues to Flatten as U.S. Health Costs Climb - in August 31 Science
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
JFK's Health Problems More Complex Than Thought
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Many women are confused ... endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not only alleviate symptoms and ... help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a pregnancy. The specialists at ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 due to ... a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live away from ... common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that lice have simply gotten out ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a ... Magna Cum Laude and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at ... returned to Los Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits ... terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps ... slow progress toward their goal. , Research from PsychTests.com reveals that ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... June 19, 2016 is World Sickle Cell Observance Day. In an ... of holistic treatments, Serenity Recovery Center of Marne, Michigan, has issued a ... Cell Disease (SCD) is a disorder of the red blood cells, which can cause ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... One of Australia,s successful biotechnology ... a new biotechnology company, Noxopharm Limited [ABN 50 608 966 123] ... to list on the ASX. Noxopharm is a clinic-ready ... a Phase 1 clinical study later this year. ... the biggest problems facing cancer patients - the ability of cancers ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (Nasdaq: JAZZ ... Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended ("HSR"), with ... ("Celator"; Nasdaq: CPXX ) expired effective June ... As previously announced on May 31, 2016, Jazz ... under which Jazz Pharmaceuticals has commenced a tender offer ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , June 27, 2016  VMS Rehab Systems, Inc. ... will take whatever measures required to build a strong ... which is currently listed on the OTC Markets-pink current ... Chairman and CEO, "We are seeing an anomaly in ... understand, not only by the Company, but shareholders and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: