Is Lincoln Earliest Recorded Case of Rare Disease?

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Abraham Lincoln was the rarest of men, and John G. Sotos believes that extended all the way to his chromosome 10.

A physician, connoisseur of rare ailments and amateur historian, Sotos believes Lincoln had a genetic syndrome called MEN 2B. He thinks the diagnosis not only accounts for Lincoln's great height, which has been the subject of most medical speculation over the years, but also for many of the president's other reported ailments and behaviors.

He also suspects Lincoln was dying of cancer at the time he was assassinated, and was unlikely to have survived a year. He thinks cancer -- an inevitable element of MEN 2B -- killed at least one of Lincoln's four sons, three of whom died before reaching age 20.

Sotos's theory assigns one of medicine's rarest conditions to one of the nation's best-known figures. It is likely to be controversial. But unlike many historical diagnoses, it can be easily proved or rejected with a DNA test for the single mutation in the gene called RET on chromosome 10 that causes MEN 2B.

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