Long Live the Chief: Presidents Usually Do

Longevity expert debunks myth that White House duty shortens life
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2011 7:01 PM CST
Long Live the Chief: Presidents Usually Do
President George W. Bush poses with President-elect Barack Obama, and former presidents, from left, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – President Obama's graying hair has set off the typical chatter that serving as president is so stressful it's bound to take years off a person's life. Not so, says a longevity expert in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, our presidents tend to live longer than the rest of us. S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois crunched the numbers involving 34 presidents who died of natural causes and found that 23 exceeded the life expectancy of men in their era, reports Reuters.

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He even factored in the perception of accelerated aging in the White House by subtracting two days for every one spent in office. Didn't matter. "All of these presidents benefited from the trifecta of exceptional wealth, almost all were highly educated and all of them had access to medical care," explains Olshansky. As for the notion that presidents seem to age rapidly: He says it's more likely we just notice the extra wrinkles because they're in the public eye, notes the Harvard Health Letter. (Read more President Obama stories.)

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