Barack Obama: Physician's letter, 2008

Obama was smoking cigarettes in high school 1a. He continued smoking afterwards 1b. He talked about quitting in 1988, but this may have been in jest 1c. He has [tried to] quit several times over the years SEE BELOW 2.

While running for President in 2008, he said he would quit, and that he was chewing Nicorette. His wife disclosed that, in exchange for giving her permission for him to run, she required that he quit 3. According to a February 2008 report, he quit smoking "several weeks" earlier 3.

Comment: Obama's total exposure to cigarettes, measured in "pack-years," has not been released. Any competent physician would elicit this information from the patient. It is so important that some physicians have called it a new "vital sign" (that's silly, but it makes the point). The quantified smoking exposure is important, among other reasons, in estimating the risk of various diseases. Although it appears as if the information was deliberately suppressed, I hope a reader can supply a pointer to the data.

In reports of his physical examinations while President, Obama's tobacco usage was described as "smoking cessation efforts" in 2010, "tobacco free" in 2011, and "remains tobacco free" in 2014 and 2016 4.

physician's letter 2008
While running for the Presidency in 2008, Obama released a one-page letter from his physician, Dr. David L. Scheiner, summarizing 21 years of medical history SEE BELOW 2. The letter offers reassuring statements about Obama's blood pressure, cholesterol profile, electrocardiogram, and basic blood tests, including prostate specific antigen.

Comment: There is nothing inherently wrong with summarizing 21 years of medical history on one page -- if the patient has been healthy. Even so, this letter leaves a bad taste in Dr. Zebra's mouth, for several reasons: (1) It is undated. Putting a date on a document is as automatic as breathing for a physician. Why was there no date? (2) The characterization of "intermittent" smoking is unprofessional. Physicians speak in terms of "pack-years" of smoking. (3) The statement that Obama maintains a "good intake" of fluids rings false. Except for patients with various diseases, there is no call to measure fluid intake. It sounds like the physician was trying to fill space.

Is conscientious about exercising, "often jogging three miles," according to a 2008 letter from his physician SEE BELOW 2. Most of the press reports during the 2008 campaign, however, centered on his basketball playing. He was on his high school's basketball team 1d.
A typed version of the letter is presented below.
Hyde Park Associates in Medicine, Ltd.
1515 East Fifty-Second Place, Third Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60615

To Whom It May Concern:

I am David L. Scheiner, a board certified general internist licensed to practice in the State of Illinois. I am on staff at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Rush University Medical Center. I have been Senator Barack Obama's primary care physician since March 23, 1987. The following is a summary of his medical records for the past 21 years.

During that period of time, Senator Obama has been in excellent health. He has been seen regularly for medical checkups and various minor problems such as upper respiratory infections, skin rashes and minor injuries.

His family history is pertinent for his mother's death from ovarian cancer and grandfather who died of prostate cancer. His own history included intermittent cigarette smoking. He has quit this practice on several occasions and is currently using Nicorette gum with success.

Senator Obama's last medical checkup was on January 15, 2007; he had no complaints. He exercised regularly often jogging three miles. His diet was balanced with good intake of roughage and fluids. A complete review of systems was unremarkable. On physical examination, his blood pressure was 90/60 and pulse 60/minute. His build was lean and muscular with no excess body fat. His physical examination was completely normal.

Laboratory studies included triglycerides of 44(normal under 150), cholesterol 173 (normal under 200), HDL 68 (normal over 40), and LDL 96 (normal under 130). Chem 24, urinalysis and CBC were normal, PSA was 0.6, very good. An EKG was normal.

In short, his examination showed him to be in excellent health. Senator Barack Obama is in overall good physical and mental health needed to maintain the resiliency required in the Office of President.


David L. Scheiner, M.D.

Cited Sources
  1. Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father. New York: Three Rivers Press, Revised Edition, 2004 (original edition 1995).
    a  p.93  b  pp.100, 188, 255, 304  c  p.430  d  p.74
  2. Scheiner, David L. ["To whom it may concern" letter]. . undated (but apparently 29 May 2008).

    Comment: Dr. David L. Scheiner became Obama's physician in 1987. A scanned copy of the letter is available from the New York Times. The letter is undated, but the Atlantic Magazine posted its copy of the letter on May 29, 2008.

  3. Kornblut, Anne E. Michelle Obama Weighs in on Husband's Smoking. 11 February 2008.

    Comment: At:

  4. Johnson, Jenna; Bernstein, Lenny. Trump's first official physical exam could provide new clues about his health. Washington Post. January 12, 2018.   Available on the web at:

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