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Doctor: Obama is in 'excellent health'

The Democratic presidential candidate's physician said Thursday the Illinois senator was in excellent health at the time of his last checkup 16 months ago.
Obama 2008
A doctor's letter says presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has excellent blood pressure, very healthy cholesterol and no signs of heart problems.Chris Carlson / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Barack Obama's doctor said Thursday the candidate was in excellent health at the time of his last checkup 16 months ago but he has a family history of cancer and a smoking habit he's tried to break.

In a one-page letter released by the campaign, Obama's longtime physician, Chicago internist Dr. David T. Scheiner, summarized 21 years of medical records for the Democratic presidential candidate.

The biggest obvious health risk for Obama: He's a smoker who has tried and failed to quit several times. He is trying again, with the aid of Nicorette gum, "with success," the letter said.

Obama, 46, is a regular jogger "with no excess body fat," Scheiner said. His last checkup in January 2007 found:

  • Excellent blood pressure, at 90 over 60. Optimal blood pressure is considered to be below 120 over 80.
  • Very healthy cholesterol, with a total cholesterol of 173 (normal is under 200); the so-called bad or LDL kind 96 (normal is under 130); and the so-called good or HDL kind at 68 (normal is over 40).
  • An EKG showed no signs of heart problems.

Cancer does run in Obama's family: His mother died of ovarian cancer and his maternal grandfather died of prostate cancer. Also, black men are at increased risk of prostate cancer overall — so the two factors typically prompt doctors to begin prostate screening, called a PSA exam, in the 40s. Scheiner listed Obama's PSA last year at a very low 0.6, meaning no sign of abnormalities.

Scheiner has been Obama's primary care doctor since 1987. Obama's campaign said the letter was written in recent days.

Republican candidate John McCain, 71, last week released almost 2,000 pages of full medical records, documenting eight years of his health — including successful treatment for melanoma — and his own doctors' conclusion that he was fit for the presidency.