Do Deciders Age Prematurely?

Stress causes grays and wrinkles, but nobody agrees whether presidents die early
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2009 5:22 PM CST
Compare this photo of George W. Bush during the 2000 campaign...   (AP Photo/Eric Draper, file)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Four to eight years as leader of the free world gave George W. plenty of wrinkles and gray hairs—but just what are the presidency’s long-term aging effects? One doctor found that presidents generally have shorter-than-average lifespans, the Boston Globe reports, while another pegs two years for every one spent in the Oval Office. "For eight years in office, they age 16 years,” he argues.

But while stress damages blood vessels and forces the body to avoid producing new hair—resulting in heart attacks and grays, respectively—other doctors say the numbers don’t add up. "It's true that when people have the weight of the world on their shoulders, they may get more wrinkles," one insists. "But the data that this impacts their health is not there."