The University of North Carolina's Jack Wooten (right) pressures then-Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama during a basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., in this April 29 file photo.
Unlike most guys his age, President-Elect Barack Obama doesn’t sport a gut — in fact, he’s got quite the six-pack by the looks of recent paparazzi pics. Like most of his red-blooded American male counterparts, Obama’s a passionate sports fan. And his basketball jump shot, also caught on camera during the election, is stylin’.
From all outward appearances, the 47-year-old Harvard Law School graduate looks to be in stand-up health, says cardiologist Chip Lavie, medical and cardiac rehabilitation director at Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. “As long as he doesn’t take up smoking again,” says Lavie, referring to a habit Obama reportedly kicked on the campaign trail last year, but may be struggling with still.
So what’s the health outlook of other guys his age? Read on for a snapshot of how the average middle-aged man stacks up:
Much less than at 20. One out of 3 guys over 45 has male pattern baldness, says Washington, D.C., cosmetic dermatologist Hema Sundaram. Ironically, age-related hormone changes speed up nose hair growth.
1 out of 25 middle-age men suffers from sleep apnea, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Hispanics and African-Americans are more at risk for the disorder, typified by pauses in breathing during sleep and grogginess in the day.
Don’t worry, blinking and squinting aren’t likely to be age-related tics. It’s a good bet you’re ready for reading glasses and some eye drops, because dry eyes can plague after 40. Get a glaucoma check now, because it’s more common as men near 50, says Duke Eye Center ophthalmologist Sanjay Asrani.
Wife complaining that you’re cranking the Springsteen too loud? You probably are. A man’s hearing wanes faster than a woman’s after 40. Preserve it: wear earplugs when lawn-mowing and hunting. And don’t blast the iPod, says Duke hearing expert David Kaylie.
It’s unlikely your grandkids will one day ogle your dentures in a water glass on the night table. The introduction of fluoride toothpaste in 1961 is one reason why this generation’s pearly whites will be longer-lasting. But don’t forego twice-yearly cleanings, especially now that cracks and chips are more apt to occur, says dentist Matthew Messina of the American Dental Association.
Gut, and thus the heart
Most middle-age men are overweight, says Lavie at the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute. “Many are obese,” he says, and a quarter to a third have metabolic syndrome — a combo of risk factors including high blood sugar, high blood pressure, poor cholesterol stats and too much belly fat.
Heart attack risk
For a non-smoker: 3 percent-5 percent
For smokers: Over 10 percent
The odds rise to 10 percent and 20 percent after age 50, Lavie says.
Chance of getting cancer in the 4th decade
Any kind: 1 in 49
Prostate: 1 in 347
Lung: 1 in 529
Colorectal: 1 in 437
Bones and joints
Top concerns in the 4th and 5th decades: overuse-related tendonitis and bursitis. “We see a lot of weekend-warrior injuries, too, like shoulder problems,” says Joseph Zuckerman, professor and chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. Zuckerman says opt now for lower-impact biking, elliptical machines and weight machines over joint-pounding running and knee-twisting competitive sports.
Erection problems don’t really kick in until after age 50, says Arnold Melman, chairman of urology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. “That’s when aging and damage from diabetes and hypertension can catch up with men by altering the blood vessels and smooth muscles in the penis,” he says. Viagra has helped virility.
Skin of color may be starting to fold, deepening lines that stretch between the mouth and nose. Caucasian is wrinklier, says dermatologist Sundaram. Rosacea, a reddening of the nose and cheeks, suffered by President Bill Clinton, may flare, too, and flaky, spotty skin can be an issue.
Multi-tasking and quick recall of last night’s game score may be slipping, but a man in his late 40s trumps his 20-something colleagues in complex reasoning and decision-making tasks. “The frontal lobe of his brain, where those things happen, is at its peak,” says UCLA aging expert Gary Small. At this age, the capacity for empathy is higher too.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau, Harris Interactive, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Adams Beverage Group, Montefiore Medical Center urologist Arnold Melman, Food Diseases Active Surveillance Network and USA TODAY research
FORTYSOMETHING GUYS AT A GLANCE
The median income for the typical American male who works full time is $43,473. College grads make more.
Diploma on the wall
Less than 30 percent of you hold college degrees.
Top sports to watch
Pro football is the No. 1 spectator sport. Baseball is No. 2.
5 feet 9 inches
Middle-aged guys are more depression-prone now, partly due to hormone changes.
Most coveted alcoholic beverage
Hands down, beer. Domestic please, bartender. Men are twice as likely as women to down U.S.-brewed beer.
Meat and chicken win over a veggie medley platter for guys any day.
The average male has sex 6.5 times per month.
The average male has 1.8 children under the age of 18.