Do heads of government age more quickly? Observational study comparing mortality between elected leaders and runners-up in national elections of 17 countriesBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6424 (Published 14 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6424
All rapid responses
An innovative biological and powerful clock, which age individuals prematurely, could be viewed as stress. Stress could be the significant factor that increases the rate at which leaders, even in appointed or elected government positions grow older. Stress occurs in both physical and emotional components. As the impact of physical and emotional stress increases aging (Mackay & Pakenham, 2012) subtle and chronic effects of emotional stress can lead to adverse consequences (Dato, et al., 2013; Epel, & Lithgow, 2014). Although stress hormones provide energy and focus, too much stress can cause an imbalance. Excessive increase of stress hormones (Epel & Lithgow, 2014) have been linked to health problems, including heart disease, elevated blood pressure, and weak immune function causing infectious diseases.
Telomere length is an indicator of both biological and cellular aging (Dato, et al., 2013). Maybe the aging effects could be linked between the scientific pace of telomere shortening, lifestyles and mental health? With each stage of development, the unnecessary generation of free radicals, due to the advanced deregulation of cellular metabolism (Dato, et al., 2013) may overpower natural cellular antioxidant scavenging response (Mackay & Pakenham, 2012) leading to impaired homeostasis. In addition, stressful life experiences have been linked to accelerate telomere shortening (Dato, et al., 2013; Lin, Epel, & Blackburn, 2012). Deterioration of the stress response with aging represents health risk, with increase ill-health, exposing individuals to infections, disabilities, institutionalization and death. How person’s age in leadership positions may result from the complex interplay between genetics, behaviors and stressors over the life span (Lin et al., 2012; Mackay & Pakenham, 2012).
Dato, S., Crocco, P., D'Aquila, P., de Rango, F., Bellizzi, D., Rose, G., & Passarino, G. (2013). Exploring the role of genetic variability and lifestyle in oxidative stress response for healthy aging and longevity. International journal of molecular sciences, 14 (8), 16443-16472.
Epel, E. S., & Lithgow, G. J. (2014). Stress biology and aging mechanisms: toward understanding the deep connection between adaptation to stress and longevity. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 69 (1), 10-16.
Lin, J., Epel, E., & Blackburn, E. (2012). Telomeres and lifestyle factors: roles in cellular aging. Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, 730 (1), 85-89.
Mackay, C., & Pakenham, K. I. (2012). A stress and coping model of adjustment to caring for an adult with mental illness. Community mental health journal, 48 (4), 450-462.
Competing interests: No competing interests