September 29, 2020
Both 2020 presidential candidates—former Vice President Joe Biden, 77, and President Donald Trump, 74—are likely to maintain their health and cognitive functions beyond the end of the next presidential term, according to findings of a recent study published in the Journal on Active Aging, University of Illinois Chicago, Medical Xpress reports.
Indeed, longevity researcher S. Jay Olshansky and his colleagues have concluded that chronological age and fitness should not be factors in the 2020 election.
“It is our conclusion that chronological age is not a relevant factor for either candidate running for President of the United States,” the authors write. “Both candidates face a lower than average risk of experiencing significant health or cognitive functioning challenges during the next four years.”
To evaluate each candidate’s likelihood of surviving a four-year term in office, the researchers scientifically evaluated the candidates’ health status based on publicly available medical records and confirmed publicly available personal information. The medical records of each candidate were independently evaluated by three medical doctors with experience in aging and a team of research scientists with expertise in epidemiology, public health, survival analysis, and statistics.
This is the first time, Medical Xpress reports, that the medical records and personal attributes of presidential candidates have been scientifically evaluated by physicians and scientists in the field of aging.
- Biden and Trump are likely to be “super-agers,” a subgroup of people who maintain their mental and physical functioning and tend to live longer than the average person their age.
- Both candidates have a higher-than- average probability of surviving a four-year term in office, relative to other men their age. For Biden, the probability of surviving the next four years is 95.2% (vs. 82.2%). For Trump, this is 90.3% (vs. 86.2%).
- Biden is expected to outlive Trump, even though he is three years older. In the paper, the researchers note Biden’s “nearly perfect health profile for a man his age,” compared with Trump’s “significant but modifiable” negative risk factors.
- While Trump is noted to have an elevated familial risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, neither candidate is expected to have major cognitive functioning challenges now or during the next four years.
“We see chronological age as a topic of discussion time and again during elections, even though scientific and medical evidence tells us that biological age is far more important,” said Olshansky, professor of epidemiology and biostatics at the UIC School of Public Health.
Biological age is reflective of how rapidly a body is growing old—this occurs at different rates, Olshansky said. “Biological age is influenced by genetics and behavioral risk factors. Some people can be biologically old at age 50 while others can be biologically young at age 80.”
In prior research, Olshansky conducted the first scientific evaluation of presidential longevity; he sought to understand if being president causes an individual to age more rapidly and die sooner than expected. In that study, Olshansky concluded that most U.S. presidents actually live beyond the average life expectancy.
Research contact: @xpress_medical