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Fame shortens people’s lives, Australian researchers say

They combed through 1,000 obituaries.

Photo credit: Baron / Getty Images

What’s the Latest Development?

Being successful and famous may mean a shorter life span, according to Australian researchers who combed through 1,000 consecutive New York Times obituaries published between 2009 and 2011. The scientists defined success as having a life that merited a death notice in the American paper of record.

Lindsay Abrams, a writer at The Atlantic, described how the study’s subjects were categorized:

“Some of these people were considered to be both successful and famous, like those in performance and sports, and, to a lesser degree, writers and composers, while others — categorized as business/military/political or professional/academic/religious — were mostly just successful.”

What’s the Big Idea?

People who became both successful and famous were likely to die earlier than philanthropists, academics and doctors, who were more likely to die of natural causes.

“The authors cite studies showing how drug use and other risky behavior is associated with fame (including later in life, once fame had faded), and question whether that, along with performance-enhancing behavior, might have played a role in the reduced life spans seen here,” writes Abrams. “… In this case, it would seem that fame isn’t necessarily associated with more health risks, but instead that people who are successful but not famous may be predisposed to being healthier.”

Read more at The Atlantic


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