The gray that has seeped across his hair, the skin folds that now bracket his mouth — like many leaders, President Obama has aged dramatically while in office.
And that visible aging may reflect stress-driven biological wear-and-tear that could shorten a leader’s life, suggests a new study on presidents and prime ministers.
The findings contradict an alternative school of thought, that the elixir of winning and holding power leads to longer life.
From the BMJ press release:
Election to head of government is associated with an increased risk of death compared with runner-up candidates, finds a study in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.
…A team of US researchers set out to test the theory that politicians elected to head of government may experience accelerated aging and premature death due to stress of leadership and political life.
They compared survival of 279 nationally elected leaders from 17 countries with 261 unelected candidates who never served in office, from 1722 to 2015…
After adjusting for life expectancy at time of last election, elected leaders lived 2.7 fewer years and had a 23% increased risk of death than runners-up.
WBUR’s Rachel Paiste spoke with Harvard Medical School’s Anupam Jena, an associate professor of health care policy and senior author on the paper. Their conversation, lightly edited: Continue reading