The researchers found that between 1956 and 2005, 100 pop music stars had died. Their average age was 42 for North American stars and 35 for European stars. More than one in four died from long-term drug or alcohol problems, the researchers found.
But, for European stars who survived 25 years after achieving fame, their life expectancy returned to normal. North American pop stars, however, continued to suffer higher death rates. "The higher mortality in the rock business has elements about achieving fame, but also coping with obscurity," Bellis said.
The lesson to be learned from the study, the researchers said, is that the music business needs to take substance abuse and risky behaviors more seriously. Not only because of the effect on the stars, but also because the stars serve as role models for others.
One in 10 children in the United Kingdom wants to be a pop star, the study authors said, and many take part in series such as the British show the "X Factor" and the U.S. hit "American Idol," which reinforce the attractiveness of a singing career.
Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, said the study findings should serve as a wake-up call for performers and their fans about the hazards that can accompany fame.
"Pop culture has a major influence on the lifestyle and behaviors of impressionable young people. Rock stars rank among the premier icons of pop culture, and thus de facto role models for their fans," he said.
"While we have all witnessed the high-profile implosions of the rich and famous, there is little if any scientific data to confirm the intuition that fast living speeds up one's demise, Katz said. "But that's just what this study shows."
"That is a sobering consideration, and one might hope not just for the musicians but their legions of fans," Katz said. "But translating alarming statistics
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