Does stress cause U.S. Presidents to age faster and die younger?

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Being the U.S. President is a stressful job — just look at how quickly our last few leaders have gone grey while in office. But is that stress enough to shorten their lifespans? A piece of research in this month's Journal of the American Medical Association answers that question definitively.

In the study, doctor Jay Olshansky compared the age of death of US presidents against how long their contemporaries were living. He begins by saying he wants to examine a common myth:

One physician suggested that the typical president ages 2 years for every year he is in office-a conclusion derived from medical records of presidents since the 1920s. Although the rate of biological aging cannot be measured, it is possible to indirectly assess claims of accelerated aging among presidents.


Olshansky examined data from the Social Security Administration life tables and the Human Mortality Database, and found that 23 of 34 presidents who died of natural causes lived beyond the average life expectancy for male contemporaries of the same age. So while we all stare at photos of Obama and wonder when he went grey, it's worth remembering that presidents are generally extremely wealthy, well educated, and have access to some of the best health care on the planet. As stressful as their lives are, it isn't sending them to an early grave.


Read the full paper via Journal of the American Medical Association.