The Hidden Truth of JFK’s Addison’s Disease

Anyone born before 1955 probably remembers exactly where they were when President John F. Kennedy (JFK) was shot. I’ve heard people reminisce about that moment right down to what they were eating, what they were wearing, and what song was playing on the radio before the broadcast bearing the terrible news changed America forever interrupted their day.

JFK Dallas Addison's
Were y;ou anywhere near this fateful spot the day JFK was shot?  [Source:]
Since 1963, millions of words have been written about JFK, including books, movie scripts, plays, newspaper articles, etc. He has been praised, he has been vilified, and everything in between — and for many of those years, much was hidden from the public. But, as my Dutch grandma used to say, Gemeen gerucht is zelden gelogen, or to be more succinct, the grapevine is usually awesomely accurate. So, as it happens, many of the rumors surrounding JFK’s health have turned out to be true.

In addition to a ruptured spinal disk that caused him to have back pain for the rest of his life, JFK also suffered from adrenal insufficiency, also known as Addison’s disease. He became so ill at one point on a state trip that he was given the Last Rites, the Roman Catholic church’s final sacrament. He also had an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).

These conditions have now been revealed as true; as for the other things said about our late President, his daughter is still alive, and out of respect for her, I won’t even speculate.

For more information about Addison’s disease, visit the National Adrenal Diseases Foundation.

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn

Erica Zahn is passionate about raising awareness of rare diseases and disorders and helping people connect with the resources that may ease their journey. Erica has been a caregiver, and is a patient, herself, so she completely relates to the rare disease community--on a deeply personal level.

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