What ailed Abe?

We all know that Abraham Lincoln was our 16th president, and led our country through the Civil War before he was assassinated in 1865.   But we are lucky that he ever became president in the first place, with all of the medical problems that he had!

When he was 9, a horse kicked him in the head, and he was unconscious for 24 hours.  Another time in his youth, he fell into a creek and almost drowned.

He was clubbed on the head during a robbery attempt in 1828, and had frostbite of his feet in 1830.

Abraham Lincoln survived malaria two times.  His whole family had malaria in 1830, and he had malaria a second time in 1835.

Abe had smallpox in 1863, after delivering the Gettysburg address.

Lincoln was also said to have suffered from depression, then called “melancholy”.

There had been a theory that he had Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disease which is associate with tall, thin patients, and can cause heart, nervous system, and musculoskeletal problems.  There was never testing performed, but geneticists now do not think that he suffered from this disease.



How long can a person live without food or water?

Most healthy humans can live up to eight weeks without food!

But humans are much more vulnerable to dehydration.  Our bodies are 65% water, and we constantly lose water through sweat, urine, feces, and even lose water with every breath we take.

Even in average temperature, a person could only live 3-5 days without water, although there are some cases where individuals have survived up to 12 days.


What is the largest joint in the body?

The knee is the largest joint in the body.

The femur (thigh bone)  is the longest and strongest bone in our body.

There are twice as many knee surgeries performed in the United States than in England or Canada.

About one percent of people in America will need a total hip replacement or total knee replacement.  More women need these surgeries than men.

At birth we have 300 bones, but some of the bones start to fuse together, so that as an adult we only have 206 bones.

The human body has 230 moveable joints.

Human bones are as strong as steel but 50 times lighter.

Bones make up only 14 percent of our weight.

The human skeleton renews every three months.

Knee joint before and after total knee replacement for arthritis:


Does our brain have an “addiction center”?

23 Million Americans are addicted to alcohol or drugs (one in every 10 people).  Why are some people more likely to get addicted than others?  Are some people more prone to become addicted?

Our brains have an “addiction center”!  There is a center in the brain called the “Nucleus Accumbens” that is felt to be our addiction center.    The Nucleus Accumbens is basically a reward system, and is actually important for survival.  When we  experience the need for hunger or water for example, a chemical called Dopamine is released in our brain’s reward center and it makes us feel better.  The chemical is released with food, water, exercise, money, and sex.

But the release of this chemical is also released with tobacco, alcohol, and  drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, and morphine.

There are special x-rays called “PET scans” that show that the brain of addicts light up differently because of  exposure from drugs.  Eventually this can actually cause a change in the brain circuits.

How can this information help addicts?  New studies are showing that some medications and types of therapy can target this reward system to help fight addictive behavior.

Normal PET scan on Left, and patient with Meth abuse on Right:



Can you eat so much that your stomach actually bursts?

There are case reports where patients have ruptured their own stomach from overeating.  Some patients have even died when this has happened.  In 1985, a medical journal reported the death of a 23-year-old fashion model from a ruptured stomach. During her last meal (which they were able to document during the autopsy), the young woman had eaten a half-pound steak, one pound of liver, two pounds of kidney, two eggs, one cauliflower, 10 peaches, four pears, four bananas, two apples, two glasses of milk, two slices of bread and two pounds each of grapes, plums and carrots. (Link to Article from Lancet, April 1985  http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=US201301446709))


What are your odds of dying in a shark attack?

Many of us have very specific phobias, such as fear of being attacked by a shark while swimming in the ocean, or fear of flying.  But what are your odds really of dying from these events, compared with the average causes of death?

Risk of dying from Heart disease: 1 in 6

Cancer: 1 in 7

Stroke: 1 in 23

Motor Vehicle Accident: 1 in 113

Suicide:  1 in 121

Accidental poisoning: 1 in 130

Dying from a fall: 1 in 171

Assault from firearms: 1 in 306

Accidental drowning: 1 in 1,123

Exposure to smoke/fire: 1 in 1,177

Bicycling: 1 in 4,717

Airplane accident: 1 in 7,032

Exposure to electric shock: 1 in 9,943

Exposure to excessive heat: 1 in 12,517

Cataclysmic storm: 1 in 46,044

Contact with hornets, wasps and bees: 1 in 71,623

Lightning: 1 in 84,079

Bitten/attacked by dog causing death: 1 in 120,864

Earthquake: 1 in 148,756

Flood: 1 in 175,803

Fireworks discharge: 1 in 386,766

Shark Attack:  1 in 3,700,000!


Two blood cells fell in love…

…but it was all in vein.

There are 2.5 trillion blood cells in your body.

Blood cells are made in the bone marrow.  The bone marrow produces 95 percent of the body’s blood cells.

Blood cells that form in the marrow start out as a “stem cell”.  The stem cells mature into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues, and carry carbon dioxide away from the tissues and back to the lungs.

White blood cells fight infection.  There are 30-40 billion white blood cells in the body that fight infections, such as bacteria.  Some white blood cells release histamine when pollen or allergens enter the body, and that is what causes an allergic reaction.  Some white blood cells can even “remember” prior infections and attack them!

Platelets form a clot if there is a cut. The body makes 100 billion platelets a day.

White blood cell eating a bacteria: