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The Doctor Is In: Maybe they should call it the Gray House

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Saturday, April 18, 2015, 5:44 AM

Title treatment for Dr. David Samadi's column, "The Doctor Is In"

And, they’re off!

The bid to capture the White House in 2016 is officially upon us and it got me to thinking: Is there a more stressful job in the world than being the President of the United States?

Most of us go through our daily lives feeling somewhat harried — but running a country and being responsible for over 300 million people?

Now, that’s stress.

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Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Presidential hopeful, and Republicans Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, all have significant political experience, but can they handle the stress that is to come?

If you could examine a time-lapse portrait of the men who have held the office from their first year of office to the last, the effects of all that weight are readily evident.

President Barack Obama answers a question during his first prime time televised news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds) Ron Edmonds/AP

President Barack Obama answers a question during his first prime time televised news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Enlarge WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 31: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the fiscal cliff negotiations in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House December 31, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama said he was hopeful that an agreement could be found to avert the fiscal cliff in Congress, which is closing in on a deal that would raise taxes on households that make more than $  450,000 a year and individuals who make more than $  400,000. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 31: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the fiscal cliff negotiations in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House December 31, 2012 in Washington, DC. Obama said he was hopeful that an agreement could be found to avert the fiscal cliff in Congress, which is closing in on a deal that would raise taxes on households that make more than $ 450,000 a year and individuals who make more than $ 400,000. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Enlarge April 2015 Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

April 2015

Enlarge

Obama in (from l.) 2009, 2012 and 2015.

As they approached the end of their terms, Bill Clinton and George Bush — and now, Barack Obama as well — had a full head of gray hair and dark circles that stretched almost as far down as their chin.

This is no mere illusion; research has shown that stress impacts the president stronger than the average person, aging them twice as fast.

It has long been unclear if — or why — stress causes a person’s hair to turn gray. However, recent studies have provided some insight.

A 2013 New York University study, published in Nature Medicine, determined that there is a link between the two.

The researchers found that hormones produced in response to stress can deplete the melanocyte stem cells that dictate a person’s hair color and skin tone. They found that stress causes the stem cells to leave our hair follicles, leaving hair gray or white — and once it’s gone, it ain’t coming back.

There are other factors that contribute to graying hair, including environment and genetics, and now we know that stress can also play a part.

Stress is the body’s response to the things that make us feel angry and upset, frustrated and threatened. When they manifest themselves, we enter “fight-or-flight” mode as the body’s natural response.

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The effects of that can be positive or negative. For the lucky ones among us, stress provides a boost that enables us to meet and overcome the challenge.

For the rest of us, stress can be overwhelming and make everything worse. The pressure begins to infiltrate every part of our lives, starting with our health and moods, our relationships and work.

President George W. Bush makes remarks about the Lockerbie trial decision from the White House January 31, 2001. Bush said the U.S. wants Libya to take responsibility for Lockerbie and compensate families of the victims. A Scottish court today convicted a Libyan intelligence officer of murder in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque Original Filename: 4958_129257_BUSH.jpg KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

President George W. Bush makes remarks about the Lockerbie trial decision from the White House January 31, 2001. Bush said the U.S. wants Libya to take responsibility for Lockerbie and compensate families of the victims. A Scottish court today convicted a Libyan intelligence officer of murder in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque Original Filename: 4958_129257_BUSH.jpg

Enlarge WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 20: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during the swearing-in ceremony for John J. Danilovich, the Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Challenge Corporation, at the State Department December 20, 2005 in Washington, DC. Danilovich served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil and Costa Rica before being appointed CEO of the MCC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** George W. Bush Original Filename: 56469016CS009_MCC.jpg Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – DECEMBER 20: U.S. President George W. Bush speaks during the swearing-in ceremony for John J. Danilovich, the Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Challenge Corporation, at the State Department December 20, 2005 in Washington, DC. Danilovich served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil and Costa Rica before being appointed CEO of the MCC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** George W. Bush Original Filename: 56469016CS009_MCC.jpg

Enlarge ANNAPOLIS, MD - NOVEMBER 30: (AFP OUT) U.S. President George W. Bush speaks on the “War on Terror” at the U.S. Naval Academy November 30, 2005 in Annapolis, Maryland. Bush spoke about a strategy for victory in Iraq as his job approval rating hit the lowest point of his presidency. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** George W. Bush Original Filename: 56291034AW004_President_Bus.jpg Alex Wong/Getty Images

ANNAPOLIS, MD – NOVEMBER 30: (AFP OUT) U.S. President George W. Bush speaks on the “War on Terror” at the U.S. Naval Academy November 30, 2005 in Annapolis, Maryland. Bush spoke about a strategy for victory in Iraq as his job approval rating hit the lowest point of his presidency. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** George W. Bush Original Filename: 56291034AW004_President_Bus.jpg

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Bush in (from l.) 2001, 2005, 2007

What is “Fight-or-flight?” If we’re stressed, our brain signals the adrenal gland to produce hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which increase our heart rate and quicken our breath. It causes our blood vessels to dilate, making blood flow quickly to the muscles in our legs (just in case we have to run).

Normally, our bodies should be able to relax after some time, but when stress persists or keeps coming back, it begins to affect our immune system, putting us at greater risk for heart disease, sleep disorders, digestive problems, depression, anxiety and memory impairment.

Studies have shown that high levels of cortisol are associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease. That’s because stress contributes to high blood pressure, cholesterol, stomach and bowel issues.

President Clinton gestures while addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington November 1, 1993. The president prodded corporate America to do more to build congressional support for the North America Free Trade Agreement, saying Europe and Japan will be the big winners if the pact fails. (AP Photo/Doug Mills) DOUG MILLS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Clinton gestures while addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington November 1, 1993. The president prodded corporate America to do more to build congressional support for the North America Free Trade Agreement, saying Europe and Japan will be the big winners if the pact fails. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Enlarge President Clinton talks in the Rose Garden of the White House Thursday, Aug. 22, 1996 prior to signing legislation overhauling America's welfare system. The president said the legislation would "recreate the nation's social bargain with the poor" by compelling welfare recipients to go to work. (AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Clinton talks in the Rose Garden of the White House Thursday, Aug. 22, 1996 prior to signing legislation overhauling America’s welfare system. The president said the legislation would “recreate the nation’s social bargain with the poor” by compelling welfare recipients to go to work. (AP Photo/J.Scott Applewhite)

Enlarge Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2001. (AP Photo/David Quinn) DAVID QUINN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2001. (AP Photo/David Quinn)

Enlarge

Clinton in (from l.) 1993, 1996, 2001

The effects of psychological stress on the body’s ability to regulate inflammation can promote the development and progression of many diseases, including cancer.

Long-term stress — the kind of brought on by the sustained, dizzying churn that comes with being the President of the United States — can cause harmful changes in our immune system. Another stress hormone, corticosteroid, can make our bodies less capable of fighting illnesses, and more prone to premature aging.

Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery, and an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team and the chief medical correspondent for am970 in New York City, where he is heard Sundays at 10 a.m.

Learn more at roboticoncology.com and SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter and Facebook.

Tags:
health ,
president ,
Hillary Clinton ,
Rand Paul ,
Marco Rubio ,
2016 election


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