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Obama in fine health, but told to quit smoking

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama hasn't kicked his smoking habit, takes anti-inflammatory medication to relieve chronic tendinitis in his left knee and should eat better to lower his cholesterol, his team of doctors concluded Sunday after the 48-year-old's first medical checkup as commander in chief.

The hoops-happy chief executive, who has endured an exhausting White House run and yearlong battles with congressional Republicans, was otherwise declared in excellent health and fit for duty.

The White House physician, Navy Capt. Jeffrey Kuhlman, said Obama should stick with "smoking cessation efforts," like nicotine gum, and come back in August 2011 after he turns 50.

Obama's cholesterol levels have crept up to borderline high and he should alter his diet accordingly, according to a report the White House released after the 90-minute examination at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

The president eats modest portions and exercises regularly. The slightly elevated cholesterol levels, tendinitis and occasional smoking were the only negatives noted. Obama acknowledged at a June news conference that he still had an occasional cigarette. He chews nicotine gum to avoid regular smoking.

Kuhlman also said the president should modify his diet to lower his LDL, or bad cholesterol. At his previous exam, Obama's total cholesterol was 173, while his LDL was 96 and HDL, or good cholesterol, was 68. This time, the total was up to 209, with HDL down at 62. But LDL was up to 138. Borderline high cholesterol starts at 200, with LDL considered in the same category at 130.

Yesterday's report said Obama is 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds in shoes and exercise clothing. The doctor said Obama's vision was 20/20 in both eyes for both distance and near vision.

The president was checked for and found free of colon cancer with a virtual colonoscopy.

The tendinitis that Obama suffers could be the result of his regular basketball playing. Kuhlman said there was mild popping and grinding in Obama's left knee and "some weakness" in his left hip, also possibly a result of rigorous and extended periods on the court.

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