U.S. Presidents’ Faster Aging Is A Myth

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CHICAGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) — U.S. presidents, Contrary to conventional wisdom, do not age at twice the normal rate, a University of Illinois at Chicago demographer says.

S. Jay Olshansky, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, examined the lifespan of U.S. presidents after media comments concerning President Barack Obama’s graying hair, pronounced wrinkles and rapidly aging appearance when he turned 50 last summer.

Using the assumption that presidents age at twice the normal rate, Olshansky calculated how long U.S. presidents would have been expected to live based on their age and the year they were inaugurated.

Olshansky found that 23 of the 34 U.S. presidents who died from natural causes lived longer, and in many instances significantly longer, than average for men. The age of the presidents at the inauguration was 55.1 years. Four presidents who were assassinated were not included from the analysis.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found the average lifespan of the first eight presidents was 79.8 years — during a period when life expectancy at birth for men was less than age 40.

The study also found that living ex-presidents have either already exceeded their predicted longevity at the time of their inauguration, or are likely to do so.

“We know that socioeconomic status has an extremely powerful effect on longevity now, and it was likely to have been a factor in the past and all but 10 U.S. presidents were college educated; all were wealthy; and all had access to healthcare,” Olshansky said.

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