Barack Obama spent his 50th birthday much the same as any other politician, under the microscope of the public eye. And his rapid aging was certainly not off limits. Having entered the White House at 47, the fifth youngest president of the United States, time hasn't been gentle on the President of The United States.
A before and after picture shows President Obama aging quicker than the average person in those few years in government. Extra gray hairs
, wrinkles, and an overall tired look. This is made worse by the fact that Michelle Obama
hasn't aged at such a fast pace, the first lady simply has less worries and more time to take care of her body. But why is it that Presidents get run down so quickly?
Dr. Michael Roizena chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic makes a bold claim- Presidents effectively age twice as fast while in office. Dr. Roizena examined factors such as lifestyle habits, diet, blood pressure and physical activity. His conclusion was that a person who has been President eight years has the risk of disability or dying of someone who is 16 years older. Dr. Roizena goes on to say that unrequited stress plays a major role in aging. As Presidents spend time in office, they lose friends that they had before entering the oval office and even more while being in office. Politics is not a friendly arena, friendships are lost as people clash over major issues in The Senate. This means that the President often doesn't have enough friends to mitigate the stress on his shoulders. And the first lady, while supportive, does have her own agendas which could be adding to the stress. I think no one would deny the fact that Michele Obama has been pushing her husband on her own plans including tackling childhood obesity.
The stress is also said to have caused inflammation which is something that will speed up aging. Dr. Michael Irwin, director of the Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute notes that inflammation can lead to age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, and some cancers. Not helping matters are the high cortisol levels are constantly running through the presidents veins, while we use cortisol to fight stress, too much of it could be bad. Symptoms include premature aging, muscle and bone loss, and other issues including hair loss
, and eczema.
A Presidents life spans seems to be shortening due to the stress as well. As people age, their telomeres
(the DNA sequences at the end of a chromosomes that control cell aging) shorten -- areas at the end of chromosomes. Stress has also been shown to be a factor of these ends shortening. The shorter these telomeres are, the older you look and the higher the risk of death.
But it's not only stress that can affect the president. Lack of sleep and environmental factors could speed up the Presidents aging. The presidents environment could one day mean being at home and the next in the hot dessert of the Middle East trying to encourage troops. Factors that most of us don't have to deal with.
Another issue that has accelerated President Obama's aging could be smoking. Having smoked for quite some time, damage may have been done to his insides and outsides. The President is now on nicotine patches to curve the cravings.
Presidents though do have one major advantage, their upbringing. Generally coming from better off backgrounds, their diets and lifestyles prior to being president means that their lives were generally good. In some ways, this could offset the damage the presidency can deal.
But not everyone is sold on the president dealing with much stress. Eileen Crimmins, who holds the AARP chair at the University of Southern California's Davis School of Gerontology says that along with presidents leading healthy lives prior to their presidency, they also have people to lean on. While President Obama might lose some friends, being the President means that there are a lot of people to call on, including other Presidents that know the rigors of governing a country.
Along with that help, the President does have some other things on his side which will help him down the line. For one, he always has a doctor on hand so he doesn't have to worry about his health like the rest of us. Barack Obama has a sense of humor which can help in fighting off the stress in his life. He has a good family support system that will always be there. President Obama has also made it clear that he leads an active lifestyle
, whatever free time he does have he enjoys spending it on the basketball court. And after his stint as President, he's going to make a very comfortable $190,000 a year which is always helpful.
So if you're planning on becoming President, stock up anti-aging supplies at the Truth in Aging store because chances are, you'll need it by your fourth year.