At the age of 43 years, John F. Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected president. Throughout both his campaign and hispresidency, he was portrayed as the epitome of youth and vigor. In fact, he had the most complex medical history of anyone to occupy the White House. The recent opening of his White House medical records has provided researchers greater insight into the multiple medical conditions that afflicted Kennedy. A recent review of these records, coupled with other available sources, allows new understanding of his health history that can now be explained in the context of a unifying autoimmune endocrine disorder.
.......In summary, John F. Kennedy had many medical conditions during his lifetime. Addison disease was diagnosed when Kennedy was 30 years of age, and he was found to have hypothyroidism when he was a senator. The coexistence of autoimmune adrenal disease and hypothyroidism is consistent with APS 2......Despite his many medical conditions as well as his recurrent back problems, John F. Kennedy managed to convey an image of health and vigor that masked the true state of his health to the U.S. public.
Graph above found here, from the CDC.
Why are autoimmune diseases so sharply divided between the sexes? This remains a very difficult question and the definitive answer has yet to be found. This National Women's Health Resource article offers a few explanations, most based on sex hormonal differences between men and women:
Most researchers agree on one thing: sex hormones must be involved. For instance, symptoms of multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis tend to improve during pregnancy, when levels of estrogen and progesterone are high. They also tend to improve when women take oral contraceptives, which moderate hormone fluctuations.2Autoimmune thyroid disease also may improve during pregnancy, then flare after delivery as postpartum thyroiditis.
Lupus, however, might sometimes flare during pregnancy while some other autoimmune diseases show no hormone-related disease changes.2
Another theory suggests that fetal cells from earlier pregnancies that remain in a woman's blood for years after giving birth may play a role in some diseases, particularly those that first develop or get worse after pregnancy.2
We also know that many immune cells have receptors for sex hormones, says Dr. Whitacre. When hormones bind, or attach, to these immune cells, they can affect the cell's behavior. In fact, women tend to have a stronger inflammatory immune response than men, and inflammation is a key component of many autoimmune diseases.2
"So it's that very close relationship with hormones that provides a clue that they play a big role in autoimmune diseases," says Dr. Whitacre.