Crouse Health Online: Wellness is just a click away.
Share Share
  |  Connect with Us: 
large
med
small
Text Size
 

Health News



Most U.S. Presidents Live Longer Than Their Peers

Most U.S. Presidents Live Longer Than Their Peers

12/06/11

TUESDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The American presidency comes with perks, from a very nice house to a handy jet at your disposal, but the job also comes with plenty of stress.

Enough stress to take years off your life? Maybe not, new research suggests.

The data showed that presidents who die of natural causes don't seem to lose years off their lives due to the effects of time spent in the White House. In fact, most of them managed to live longer than similar men of their era.

The findings don't prove definitively that stress of the presidency has no effect on the life span of presidents. It may still take years off their lives; the research doesn't compare them to men of similar wealth and position, such as members of Congress.

Still, "they did a lot better than one would have predicted, given the circumstances that they were in," said study author S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "There's no evidence that they're dying earlier."

Olshansky also thinks he's shot down one assumption: that each year in the White House typically takes two years off a president's life. A recent news report about that assumption, prompted by photos that showed the aging of President Obama, led Olshansky to try and see if there was any truth to it.

He was skeptical because presidents share three traits that have been linked to longer life spans: wealth, education and access to health care. "They've scored the trifecta," he said.

Olshansky compared the life spans of presidents who died of natural causes to the life spans of men who were of the same age as the presidents when they were inaugurated. There was a hitch, however, because full American statistics from 1789-1899 weren't available; Olshansky compared presidential life spans in that era to statistics from France, where he thinks men would have lived about as long as in the United States.

Of the 34 who died of natural causes (all except Kennedy, McKinley, Lincoln and Garfield), 23 lived longer than the average man would have, based on their ages at inauguration. They would have lived longer than the average for other men of their era even if they'd somehow aged at twice the normal rate while serving as president.

Commenting on the report, Dr. James Goodwin, director of the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said the idea that presidents will be adversely affected by stress is "fundamentally flawed." Research in animals and some in people suggests that the most dangerous type of stress comes with helplessness, such as "when you're a middle manager and can't change the system," he explained.

"When you're more in charge, it isn't a bad stress," he said.

Goodwin added that presidents aren't like other people. "You're selecting for people with tremendous life force, incredibly energetic, emotionally active and positive people," he said. "They're politicians."

One idea for future research would be to study the losers of presidential elections, who would share many traits with the winners but never actually ended up in the White House, he said.

The research is published in the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More information

For more about aging and senior health, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

OF INTEREST:
 

Latest News

Crouse Employee Lois Wille Walks the Simply Well Lifestyle Talk
more >

MedEx Bedside Prescription Delivery Service

Free service offers convenience, patient education at discharge.
more >

CrouseSports Express After-Hours Ortho Care

Immediate care of orthopedic injuries in kids and adults.
more >

Weight Loss Surgery

Is it right for you? Attend a free information seminar held twice monthly.
more >

Quality at Crouse

See how Crouse Hospital strives to provide the best in patient care.
more >

Cheer Up That Special Someone

Say get well or welcome a new arrival with a gift purchased right at Crouse.

more >

Make an Online Donation Now

Your donation of any amount helps support Crouse services & programs in a meaningful way.
more >

Shop Online Now

Say get well, thinking of you or welcome new baby with a unique gift from the Crouse Gift Shop.

more >