Careful what you wish for, dear presidential candidates, because new research suggests that winning an election does have its downsides, especially when it comes to good health.
- Study says presidents and world leaders age quicker
- Several factors are involved: stress, living in the spotlight and in constant state of high alert, great responsibility, and sleep deprivation are just some of them
- Being a president cuts down life expectancy with almost 3 years
A study that covered more than 300 prime ministers and elected presidents from 17 countries found that winners usually lived 2.7 fewer years and presented a 23 percent higher risk of premature death than the runners-up who never got the chance to serve as leader of their nation.
According to the study author Anupam Jena of Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the analysis – which spanned nearly three centuries – stress and greater responsibility could increase mortality among those occupying the highest office of the nation.
It’s only nature taking its course; relative to others in politics, the president’s decisions have a lot more impact, and the job is even more strenuous as it is constantly done in the spotlight. Jena explained in an email that in the U.S., for example, runners-up lived about 19 years after their last election, while presidents lived significantly shorter, about 12 years on average.
Even after the analysis took into account the fact that election winners have a tendency of being a bit older than those who lost, U.S. presidents still lived roughly 5.7 fewer years. It’s not very easy to pinpoint exactly what makes a president or prime minister prematurely gray or what may send them to an early grave, but stress definitely plays an important role.
Elevation of certain hormones like cortisol can in turn accelerate diseases, including the feared cardiovascular disease. Slowing down the acceleration of aging is possible by reducing stress, but fully reversing is unachievable.
Jena’s team analyzed survival differences between world leaders who won the office and the candidates who tried and failed, covering the period between 1722 and 2015. The countries participating in the study were the U.S., the UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Greece, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and New Zealand.
Even though some limitation sparked from focusing on survival after the last election, the authors conceded that winners and runners-up share a different life expectancy from ordinary citizens. However, the study published in the British Medical Journal didn’t adjust for the risk of dying from unnatural causes like assassinations.
Image Source: CBS News