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HomeA FocusRemote medical diagnoses: Putin has Parkinsonʼs and Biden has dementia

Remote medical diagnoses: Putin has Parkinsonʼs and Biden has dementia

Over the past few months, Russian leader President Vladimir Putin has been remotely diagnosed in the Western media with enough grim diseases to fill a textbook and yet, somehow, staggers on. Russian media, in turn, has diagnosed US President Joe Biden with dementia. It’s all part of a trend to weaponise medical “diagnoses” against leading political figures, writes MedicalBrief.

In recent weeks, writes Amy Jones on Unherd, Putin, who is 69, has been described by political commentators as “aged” and “ashen and bloaty”, with former British foreign secretary David Owen quoted as saying Putin’s “oval face” was a sign of steroid use.

And what is this steroid use thought to indicate? That Putin has cancer, of course, writes Jones.

Jones writes further:

This was confirmed by an unnamed source – reportedly from the Pentagon – who was quoted by the Daily Star as stating that Putin was dying of bowel cancer and that his “angry look is most likely as a result of him being in agony”.

From TikTok users to senior establishment figures, the endless speculation over the Russian president’s health has created an industry unto itself. This has, at times, reached ridiculous lengths, with body language experts suggesting that Putinʼs “excessive blinking” gave away his underlying anxiety.

Another psychotherapist has speculated that Putin is suffering from “psychosis and a personality disorder”, commenting that, in recent weeks, “the voices inside Putin’s head would likely have become so much more real”.

This medical guesswork is nothing new. In fact, Putin’s “puffy appearance” has been the source of speculation since as far back as 2014, around the same time as the invasion of Crimea. Back then commentators were suggesting that Putin might be suffering from “spinal cord cancer”, or even pancreatic cancer.

This isn’t the only cancer diagnosis proposed, however. Dr Angus Dalgleish, an oncology professor at St George’s Hospital, London, suggested that Putin may well have a brain tumour. The Daily Mail, meanwhile, agrees about Putin’s cancer diagnosis, but itʼs thyroid, not bowel, cancer from which he’s suffering.

So far the list has included thyroid cancer, bowel cancer, pancreatic cancer, spinal cord cancer, a brain tumour, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, steroid misuse, psychosis and a personality disorder. With all of these ailments, it’s a small wonder that Putin has managed to keep hold of the presidency of Russia.

Of course, at 69, things are likely to starting to catch up with the Russian president in some way or another. But the truth is that very few people in the West (or even Russia) know about Putin’s physical or mental state, and the endless speculation only creates more confusion.

To try to rationalise Putin’s actions in Ukraine by blaming it on disease is desperate. Perhaps his barbarism is not due to Parkinson’s or cancer, but simply a result of him being foolhardy and arrogant. Poor decision-making does not require a medical diagnosis.

White House lies low

The White House, perhaps out of sensitivity towards media speculation from Russian and European sources on the supposed dementia the President Joe Biden has, refused to be drawn on the issue, writes MedicalBrief.

Fox News reports that Komsomolskaya Pravda, a pro-Kremlin newspaper, recently published an article questioning whether Biden is “in his right mind” and listed five examples of “dementia that can be found in the President of the United States.”)

Newsweek reports that on Monday (25 April) a reporter asked the White House about the speculation regarding Putin, and was told that the White House did not not have “any assessment to offer from here or any particular comment” on Putin’s health.

Several recent viral videos of Putin have sparked questions about his condition, especially in light of the far-reaching impacts of the Russia Ukraine War, writes Newsweek.

One video that was viewed more than 1m times and posted on Visegrad 24 showed Putin just before a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In the video, Putin is initially standing alone. He holds up his hand, which appears to be shaking until he presses it against his chest, and then walks stiffly toward Lukashenko before embracing his Belarusian counterpart.

Newsweek notes that in the video’s caption, Visegrad 24 noted Putin’s hand tremors and stiff leg and asked asked whether Putin could be suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Newsweek then cites the Mayo Clinic on Parkinson’s: “Symptoms start gradually, sometimes starting with a barely noticeable tremor in just one hand. Tremors are common, but the disorder also commonly causes stiffness or slowing of movement,” the organisation wrote on its website.

Another video circulating which has fuelled rumours about Putin’s health was taken during a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. In the video, which had 2.5m views as of publication time, shows Putin seated opposite Shoigu at a table.

He grips the table with one hand and repeatedly taps one foot on the ground while speaking. Some social media users have pointed out Putin progressively sinks down in his chair during the video.



Unherd (The Post) article – Does Vladimir Putin have cancer, Parkinson’s or dementia? (Open access)


Newsweek article ¬– White House Won't Weigh In on Putin's Health as Rumors Swirl (Open access)


Fox News article on Russian media accusing Biden of having dementia (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Thousands of Parkinson's patients initially misdiagnosed


DBS may slow the progression of Parkinson's tremor in early-stage


Sport cardiology: Position statement on effects of doping substances and common medications


Russia's once-derided vaccine may garner diplomatic dividends


Lancet case study on nerve agent poisoning – as Russia arrests the victim



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