This could be a yuge blow to Donald Trump's stellar bill of health.
Elected leaders live shorter and have a greater risk of mortality than political candidates who are runners-up, according to a study published on Tuesday in the BMJ's Christmas issue. The results come from data on 540 candidates stretching back to 1722 and spanning 17 countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
"We found that heads of government had substantially accelerated mortality compared with runner-up candidates," the study's authors wrote. "Our findings suggest that elected leaders may indeed age more quickly."
The researchers conducted two tests — the first, on the 380 candidates who died before Sept. 9, 2015. They counted the years between each candidate's last election and death, noting the candidate's life expectancy and whether he or she served as a head of government.
In the second test, applicable to all 540 candidates, researchers plotted data on a Kaplan-Meier survival curve to determine candidates' risk of mortality.
Here's what they found: Candidates who win elections tend to live 4.4 fewer years than their losing counterparts. Winning candidates also tend to be 3.8 years older at the time of election than their runners-up; after adjusting the data for life expectancy, researchers determined that elected leaders still live 2.7 fewer years.
As for that second test, "Kaplan-Meier survival curves showed statistically significantly higher mortality among elected leaders compared with runners-up," the authors wrote. Winning candidates had a 23% higher mortality risk than those who lost.
This study comes a day after Trump's doctor released a statement about Trump's health, which read more or less like a North Korean tribute to Kim Jong Il's unparalleled prowess on the golf course. Trump's personal physician, Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, called the candidate's blood pressure and lab test results "astonishingly excellent," his physical strength and stamina "extraordinary" and his cardiovascular status "excellent."
"If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency," Bornstein concluded.
"I am proud to share this report, written by the highly respected Dr. Harold Bornstein of Lenox Hill Hospital, stating that I am in excellent health," Trump wrote on his campaign site. "I am fortunate to have been blessed with great genes — both of my parents had very long and productive lives."
The researchers' data seems to support the idea that being in office makes presidents appear older than they are. If that's case, Trump's youthful vigor could be in trouble if he wins. On the other hand, should his aging process accelerate, perhaps we'll bid adieu to his hair sooner than we thought.
Still, an even more pressing question: How can we stop these findings from applying to beautiful Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?