Health and Medical History of President

James Carter

President #39
Lived: 1924-Date Served: 1977-1981

Timeline from 1776: ← 2013

Maladies and Conditions

pancreatic cancer
Carter's two sisters, his brother, and his father died of pancreatic cancer. His mother had pancreatic, bone, and breast cancer when she died at age 85. McKusick speculates whether an environmental agent, such as an agricultural chemical or aflatoxin, could be responsible MIM 260350.

Carter was 5 feet 9 and 1/2 inches tall 3. During the 1976 presidential campaign, ex-football player Gerald Ford would make fun of his height 2a.

"runner's high"
Near collapse while running

tear gas eye irritation
"In 1977, on the Shah [of Iran]'s state visit to Washington, the Shah and the President stood for their commemorative photograph, wiping their eyes from the tear gas being used to keep the anti-Shah demonstrators at bay" 4a.

In 1978, Carter had to leave a Christmas party for White House staffers "to receive emergency treatment" for a painful hemorrhoid that left him "almost completely incapacitated from participating in any kind of public events" 1a.

For the first and only time during his Presidency, Carter cancelled all his scheduled events for the next day. He was given an injection of Demerol and slept at least part of that day. It was difficult for Carter to walk 1a.

The problem was successfully concealed from the public -- for a time. On Christmas Eve, however, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt "announced to the world that his good friend Jimmy had hemorrhoids and made a public appeal for all Egyptians... to pray on this holy day that I would be cured. ... The day after Christmas, for the first time in weeks, all the pain and discomfort went away. I was tempted to make a public announcement thanking people of all faiths for their prayers, but decided that we'd had enough publicity about my ailment. In any case, I've never received a better Christmas gift or felt more grateful for personal benefits that resulted from a nation at prayer" 1a.

Carter mentions that he was "first afflicted" with hemorrhoids as a young submarine officer, "but this time it was much worse than ever before" 1a. It therefore appears this was a recurrent problem for him.

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Cited Resources
  1. Carter, Jimmy. Christmas in Plains. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.0743224914 Libraries. app. 117-120
  2. DeFrank, Thomas M. Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2007.0425223485 Libraries 2007032750. ap. 142
  3. Page, Susan. Time-tested formulas suggest both Bush and Kerry will win on Nov. 2. USA Today. June 23, 2004.
  4. Walker, Martin. The Cold War. New York: Henry Holt, 1995.0805034544 Libraries 94-5152. ap. 247
Other Resources
Alternate index terms: James Earl Carter, Jimmy Carter
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