Call it the Oval Of­fice ef­fect

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS -

Now we have an­other rea­son to hail the chief: Aside from hold­ing the most pow­er­ful of­fice in the land, he also lives be­yond the av­er­age life ex­pectancy of the av­er­age U.S. male.

We’ve all seen side-by-side pic­tures of U.S. pres­i­dents at the be­gin­ning and end of their terms, not­ing how four years in of­fice un­doubt­edly has­tens their ag­ing. So that’s why the re­sults of a new study in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion were sur­pris­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the find­ings, not only is there no ev­i­dence to sup­port the no­tion that U.S. pres­i­dents die sooner on av­er­age than other U.S. men, but 23 of the 34 pres­i­dents who died of nat­u­ral causes ac­tu­ally lived be­yond the av­er­age life ex­pectancy of men of the same age when they were in­au­gu­rated. That’s even if they hy­po­thet­i­cally aged at twice the nor­mal rate while in of­fice. (Ag­ing twice as fast in of­fice means that for ev­ery day in of­fice, two days were sub­tracted from the es­ti­mated life­span at in­au­gu­ra­tion.) For one thing, the study says, the av­er­age age of a pres­i­dent at in­au­gu­ra­tion is 55.1 years, so each pres­i­dent had al­ready sur­vived what the study re­ferred to as the “most per­ilous” years of a man’s life. And for an­other, all but 10 pres­i­dents were col­lege-ed­u­cated, wealthy and had ac­cess to the best med­i­cal care in their era.

“The gray­ing of hair and wrin­kling of skin seen in pres­i­dents while in of­fice are nor­mal el­e­ments of hu­man ag­ing; they oc­cur for all men dur­ing this phase of life and can be ac­cel­er­ated by be­hav­ioral risk fac­tors such as smok­ing and stress,” the study noted. “Whether these out­ward changes oc­cur faster for pres­i­dents rel­a­tive to other men of the same age is un­known. Even if these signs of ag­ing did ap­pear at a faster rate for pres­i­dents, this study shows that this does not mean their lives are short­ened.”

GETTY IM­AGES

You’re only as old as you feel, right guys?

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