Ad­di­son’s dis­ease af­fected doomed Franklin Ex­pe­di­tion: prof

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

A pro­fes­sor of den­tistry and his col­leagues have pub­lished a the­ory that seeks to ex­plain why Inuit who en­coun­tered mem­bers of the doomed Franklin Ex­pe­di­tion in the 19th cen­tury no­ticed the men had hard, dry and black mouths.

Rus­sell Taich­man at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan says sev­eral ex­plor­ers who in­ter­viewed Inuit who en­coun­tered the Bri­tish sailors after they had aban­doned their ice­bound ships no­ticed strange den­tal symp­toms.

Taich­man, who is from Toronto and has long been fas­ci­nated with Sir John Franklin’s failed mis­sion to lo­cate the North­west Passage, said the symp­toms didn’t seem to fit other the­o­ries about what be­fell the crew, such as scurvy, lead poi­son­ing or spoilage in the tinned food they car­ried.

So, he and a li­brar­ian at the uni­ver­sity, Mark MacEach­ern, be­gan comb­ing through med­i­cal lit­er­a­ture to fig­ure it out.

“What kept com­ing up sev­eral times was tu­ber­cu­lo­sis,’’ said Taich­man.

“It was pretty com­mon in Bri­tish sailors at the time, liv­ing in close quar­ters.’’

Taich­man said he dis­cussed the find­ing with an on­col­o­gist and hema­tol­o­gist Frank Cack­owski, who ex­plained that tu­ber­cu­lo­sis can cause adrenal de­fi­ciency, or Ad­di­son’s dis­ease.

Ad­di­son’s can pro­duce the symp­toms that were ob­served by the Inuit, Taich­man said, al­though he noted it rarely pro­gresses to that point in mod­ern times.

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