We're more likely to die on our birthdays

Kimberly Gillan
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
People more likely to die on birthdays than other days of the year
Image: Getty Images

New research shows we are more likely to die on our birthday than any other day of the year.

Swiss researchers analysed the death records of 2.4 million people over almost 40 years and found people were 13.8 percent more likely to die on their birthday.

The scientists from the University of Zurich found an increase in strokes, heart attacks, falls and suicides on people's birthdays.

There was a 28.5 percent increase in accidental deaths and a 44 percent increase in the number of deaths from falls on birthdays.

The rate of heart attacks rose by 18.6 percent and were more common in men. Strokes increased by 21.5 percent and were more likely in women.

"Birthdays end lethally more frequently than might be expected," Dr Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross from the University of Zurich concluded.

People over the age of 60 were found to be 18 percent more likely to die on their big day.

The researchers say this study challenges the existing "postponement theory" – that people are likely to wait until their birthday to die.

Instead, they talk about the "anniversary reaction" theory, where stress or the "birthday blues" could be fatal.

"It seems to be a valid finding," psychologist and Professor Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, told the UK’s The Telegraph. "There are two camps – one is the camp that suggests you eat too much and you’re getting on a bit and that causes you to die," Wiseman said. "The other is a placebo effect. You are knife-edged on death. And you kept yourself going until your birthday. You think, 'That's it, I've had enough I'm out of here.'"

The study is published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology.

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