photo of john f kennedy
1 / 11

John F. Kennedy

Medical records examined in 2002 showed that America's 35th president might have had, among other illnesses, ulcerative colitis. Severe bouts of diarrhea led some doctors to believe it was UC, though further review suggested it might have been irritable bowel syndrome.

Swipe to advance
photo of shinzo abe
2 / 11

Shinzo Abe

Abe became prime minister of Japan in 2006. He resigned the next year because of ulcerative colitis. "I would need to go to the lavatory 30 times a day. It would be absolutely impossible to perform the heavy duties of prime minister," he told Australian TV network ABC in 2008. A year later, thanks to new medication, he was able to control his UC. He returned as prime minister in 2012 and has held the post ever since.

Swipe to advance
photo of gregory itzin
3 / 11

Gregory Itzin

Best known for his role of President Charles Logan on the TV drama 24, Itzin got help after a bout of UC put him in the hospital during his run on the show. "Being scolded a bit by the doctor for not taking care of my ulcerative colitis shook me up," Itzin, now 71, told the Celebrity Health Minute in 2012. "I thought I just had a sensitive stomach, but that’s when I finally realized this is something that I really have to take care of."

Swipe to advance
photo of amy brenneman
4 / 11

Amy Brenneman

Brenneman, star of the TV drama Judging Amy, has been a spokesperson for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCFA) of America, aiming to raise awareness for both UC and Crohn's. "I know firsthand," she said, "how devastating these diseases can be."

Swipe to advance
photo of chuck lorre
5 / 11

Chuck Lorre

Lorre, the genius behind such TV comedies as The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men, has UC. He mentioned it in one of the "cards" that appear at the end of episodes of his shows. "Being too poor to go to a doctor when I had ulcerative colitis made me a big supporter of free health care," this comedy king wrote, "as well as appreciative of the life-affirming qualities in a good bowel movement."

Swipe to advance
photo of rolf benirschke
6 / 11

Rolf Benirschke

Benirschke, a former kicker in the NFL, originally was diagnosed with Crohn's, but after several surgeries during his 10-year pro football career, doctors told him he had ulcerative colitis. Now, he’s a spokesperson for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Swipe to advance
photo of casey abrams
7 / 11

Casey Abrams

This American Idol contestant went to the hospital during his competition in 2011 after a flare-up of UC. He eventually finished sixth, and later served as a spokesperson for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. "It’s really not talked about that much because you’re going to the bathroom 10 to 14 times a day during a flare-up and there’s blood and it’s kind of embarrassing," he said. "But if you have it, you have to talk about it. You have to see a doctor."

Swipe to advance
photo of sunny anderson
8 / 11

Sunny Anderson

Anderson, a celebrity chef, has been living with UC for more than 20 years. In 2014, she launched a website designed to educate those with inflammatory bowel disease about the role of diet and nutrition in managing symptoms of Crohn's and UC.  

Swipe to advance
photo of dan reynolds
9 / 11

Dan Reynolds

Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, announced on Twitter in 2018 that he’s had UC and another inflammatory disease, ankylosing spondylitis, for a decade. A year later, he let fans know that through diet and exercise, he has both diseases largely under control.

Swipe to advance
photo of sir steven redgrave
10 / 11

Steven Redgrave

Redgrave, a British rower who won gold in five consecutive Olympics (1984-2000), is widely considered to be the greatest rower ever. UC symptoms endangered his run at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but "with the right medical treatment, I've been able to keep the illness under control and continue with my life, both in training during my career as a professional athlete and in my life beyond the boat."

Swipe to advance
photo of fernando pisani
11 / 11

Fernando Pisani

Pisani, who played in the National Hockey League for eight seasons, first began to notice symptoms of his disease in 2005. Pisani wrote in The Hockey News that he was going to the bathroom 20-30 times a day and losing lots of blood. His UC caused him to miss 26 games in the 2007-08 season, but it became controlled through medication.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 08/04/2019 Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 04, 2019

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. Pxhere
  2. Kremlin.ru
  3. Rich Fury / Getty Images
  4. Kristin Dos Santos / Wikimedia
  5. iDominick / Wikimedia
  6. George Gojkovich / Getty Images
  7. Justin Higuchi / Wikimedia
  8. Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images
  9. Sven-Sebastian Sajak / Wikimedia
  10. Phil Guest / Wikimedia
  11. Joel Auerbach / Getty Images

 

SOURCES:

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation: "Overview of Ulcerative Colitis," "Rolf Benirschke's Story," "Diet and Nutrition."

The White House: "John F. Kennedy."

The New York Times: "In J.F.K. File, Hidden Illnesses, Pain and Pills."

Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet: "Profile of the Prime Minister."

Agence France-Presse (via Australian Broadcasting Company): "Bowel illness forced me to quit, Abe says."

Financial Times: "The Second Coming of Japan's Shinzo Abe."

Japan Forward: "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: Call Him A Born-Again Politician."

International Move Database: "Gregory Itzin."

Celebrity Health Minute: "Gregory Itzin: Battling Ulcerative Colitis."

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation: "HBO’s 'The Leftovers' Star Amy Brenneman Lends Her Voice To Help Raise Awareness for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis in new PSA."

CDC: "Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Data and Statistics," "What is inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?"

International Movie Database: "Amy Brenneman."

Chuck Lorre Productions: "The Official Vanity Card Archives (No. 497)."

Pro Football Reference: "Rolf Benirschke."

The Los Angeles Times: "‘American Idol’s’ Casey Abrams talks about his ulcerative colitis."

Fox News: "Celebrity chef Sunny Anderson on living with inflammatory bowel disease."

Verywell Health: "Marvin Bush, First Brother, and Ulcerative Colitis."

Twitter: @DanReynolds.

Spondylitis Association of America: "Overview of Ankylosing Spondylitis."

Men's Health: "How Dan Reynolds From Imagine Dragons Transformed His Body and His Health."

International Olympic Committee: "Steven Redgrave."

Crohn's & Colitis UK: "Sir Steve Redgrave."

Hockey Reference: "Fernando Pisani."

The Hockey News: "Fernando Pisani: Battling Back from Ulcerative Colitis."

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 04, 2019

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.