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Rock 'N' Roll: Sex, Drugs and an Early Exit
Date:9/3/2007

Pop stars twice as likely to die young compared to general population, study finds

MONDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- From Elvis to Hendrix, from Janis Joplin to Kurt Cobain, rock and pop stars are more than twice as likely to die early compared with the general population, British researchers report.

What's more, pop stars often die within a few years of achieving fame, often due to drug and alcohol abuse. But it's their role as icons that worries the researchers behind the report that appears in the September issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

"People should understand the type of lifestyle that many of these performers live," said study author Mark Bellis, director of the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University. "In addition, the music industry should consider not just the short-term health of popular rock stars, but also the longer term health even as they disappear later into obscurity."

Part of the problem is living with the stress of fame, Bellis said. "Also, living in an environment of money and fame, which protects people from some of the consequences, which would make members of the general public give up drugs," he said.

"Generally," he added, "affluence enhances people's lifestyles and prolongs life, whereas in this particular case the exposure to fame and what comes with it is associated with a mortality which is higher than that in the general population."

For the study, Bellis and his colleagues collected data on 1,064 pop artists from North America and Europe who shot to fame between 1956 and 1999. These musicians were all featured in the All Time Top 1,000 albums, selected in 2000, covering rock, punk, rap, R&B, electronica and new age music.

Bellis's team compared how long the stars survived after achieving fame to the life expectancy of the general population, matching for age, sex, ethnicity and nationality,
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