Why presidents suffer accelerated aging in office

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Campaigning for the job of president is no picnic, then if you get the job - look out.

Presidents are targets of personal attacks and endless hours working and traveling all over the country. The presidential candidates are under a lot of stress, but when you actually land the job of commander in chief it shows all over your body. In fact, you age twice as fast.

The nation felt the stress that President Nixon endured as he became the only president to resign the office.  But the presidency takes its toll on anyone who holds that office.

"What happens is the president almost invariably ages two years for every year they're in office. You can see it in the color of their hair, but you also see it in their risk of dying," says Cleveland Clinic Dr. Michael Roizen.

He has studied the public health records of former U.S. presidents from the time they enter office to the time they leave.

He says that many of the presidents from the early 1900s through the 1950s actually had major medical problems, such as heart attacks and strokes while in office. He credits modern medicine for the decline in those events with more recent presidents.

The one problem that is consistent with all of them, though, according to Dr. Roizen, is the isolating nature of the job.

He says that when presidents lose touch with friends, they lose the ability to relieve some of their stress. And stress, without an easy way of managing it, can make you appear much older.

Dr. Roizen says there is good news, as once the commander-in-chief has leaves the oval office the accelerated aging process can be reversed.

"Until you're six feet under, you get a chance of reversing your accelerated aging and can make yourself much younger," he says.

Dr. Roizen says that reversing accelerated aging can be accomplished through healthy diet changes and better management of stress.