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America's 10 Unhealthiest Presidents

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3. John F. Kennedy

35th President (1961-1963)

Scarlet fever, measles, whooping cough: Kennedy's childhood was riddled with health issues. At 2 years old, he contracted measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox. He also contracted scarlet fever, which almost killed him. Later in his childhood, he frequently had upper respiratory infections and bronchitis, as well as allergies, frequent colds, asthma, and a weak stomach.

Jaundice, pneumonia, appendicitis: During his teen years, Kennedy had his appendix removed, suffered a severe case of pneumonia, had his tonsils removed, and was hit with jaundice twice, which sent him to the hospital for two months and forced him to withdraw from Princeton University.

Urethritis: Once Kennedy recovered from jaundice, he resumed his college education at Harvard University. During this time, he contracted urethritis, an inflammation of the urethra that results in painful urination. Kennedy didn't seek immediate treatment, so this became a chronic problem for many years, despite his taking drugs to suppress symptoms. Considering Kennedy's notorious libido and reputation as a playboy, some have speculated that his urethritis was a sexually transmitted disease.

Addison's disease: After years of suffering back pains, Kennedy was diagnosed in 1947 with Addison's disease, a rare endocrine disorder that generally results in fatigue, muscle weakness, nausea, and bronzing of the skin. Kennedy was so ill that he was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church, with physicians speculating that he would die within the year. However, cortisone therapy and medicinal implants kept Kennedy alive. Still, the president underwent two failed back operations to rid him of his aches, and took chronic pain medication from 1955 until his death.

Cigar smoker: Kennedy loved a fine cigar -- so much, in fact, that he once called his press secretary into his office and asked him to buy 1,000 Cuban cigars by the next morning. The press secretary obliged, and presented Kennedy with the requested goods the next morning. Only then did Kennedy pull a document out of his desk and sign it. It was the embargo officially ending trade with Cuba.

Drug cocktail: Kennedy suffered from a host of maladies throughout his lifetime, causing him to take a cocktail of drugs at the beginning of his presidency -- many of which can affect one's thinking processes. Among those taken were injected cortisone, phenobarbital, Tuinal, Lomotil, and amphetamines.

Next:  2. William Taft


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drthan wrote:

Ummm...Where's FDR on this list? polio with paralysis, severe heart disease with CHF due to chronic hypertension, probable metastatic melanoma, severe atherosclerosis. Died shortly into 4th term. A glaring omission maybe due to the fact that his medical records were lost/destroyed.

10/3/2011 11:16:51 PM Report Abuse

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