Presidents, prime ministers may age faster, die sooner

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LONDON (AP) — Being the leader of a country can really age you.

New research suggests that heads of state age faster than normal and that the stress of the job may shave almost three years off their life expectancy.

In a study published online in the medical journal, The BMJ, doctors looked at presidents and prime ministers in 17 countries, including the United States, Britain, Canada, France and Germany. They analyzed how long those leaders survived after leaving office, compared to the losing candidates. And they observed the number of years they lived versus what was expected for someone of the same age and gender.

After looking at the fates of 279 heads of state and 261 runner-ups, they concluded that former leaders had almost three years shaved off their life expectancy.

The study's lead author, Dr. Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School, says leaders "probably felt national priorities were much more pressing than eating right and exercising."

Other researchers have found that U.S. presidents actually live longer than their constituents. Professor S. Jay Olshansky of University of Illinois at Chicago says just because the stresses of a leader of a country can accelerate the gray hair and wrinkles doesn't mean they'll die earlier.

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