President John F Kennedy's medical history: coeliac disease and autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 2

Postgrad Med J. 2020 Sep;96(1139):543-549. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-137722. Epub 2020 Apr 27.


President John F. Kennedy (JFK) had a complex medical history that is now thought to be an autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 2 with Addison's disease and hypothyroidism. He also had gastrointestinal symptoms from adolescence, which now fit well with coeliac disease. In addition, he had a chronic back problem, which contributed to a chronic pain syndrome. This review looks at JFK's various diseases and focusses on the history of coeliac disease, as well as its presentation. JFK's Irish ancestry supports the hypothesis of a coeliac disease started early in his youth.

Keywords: adrenal disorders; coeliac disease; immunology; medical history; thyroid disease.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Addison Disease / history
  • Back Pain / history
  • Celiac Disease / history*
  • Chronic Pain / history*
  • Famous Persons*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / history
  • Polyendocrinopathies, Autoimmune / history*