Abraham Lincoln’s physical features suggest that he may have had a genetic disorder – or even an extremely rare disease.
Abraham Lincoln’s health has been endlessly debated and analyzed by historians, researchers and doctors. Historical documents refer to his long limbs and clumsy gait, which have lead some members of the medical community to suggest that he may have had a genetic disorder called Marfan Syndrome.
Marfan Syndrome is an inherited mutation that affects connective tissue and is characterized by many physical indicators, including tallness, long limbs and fingers, flat feet and crowded teeth. A major concern with Marfan Syndrome is aortic enlargement, which can be life threatening. This condition is most often treated with blood pressure-lowering medication to reduce stress on the aorta.
More recently, cardiologist Dr. John Sotos published his opinion that Lincoln actually suffered from an extremely rare disease called MEN2B (multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 2B). In his book, The Physical Lincoln, Sotos compares the features of MEN2B with a constellation of Lincoln’s own physical symptoms as he sees them. The evidence is compelling, but we may never know the definitive answer. Those who argue for testing Lincoln’s remains believe that the findings would be historically significant, while those against it seek to preserve the “non-renewable national historic treasure,” that is his DNA.
Maher, Brendan. “What Lincoln had” Nature, November 30, 2007 nature.com
“Marfan Syndrome” mayoclinic.org
Associated Press. “Disease may have caused Lincoln’s ‘clumsy gait’” January 27, 2006, nbcnews.com