You're More Likely to Die on Your Birthday

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Surrounded by friends and family, celebrating with good food and drink, birthdays are happy occasions that we all look forward to. But new research suggests that, of all days, we're most likely to die when we're celebrating the passing of another year of our life.

The study, carried out at the University of Zurich and published in Annals of Epidemiology, studied data from more than two million people over the age of 40. It showed that people are 18.6 per cent more likely to die of heart attack on their birthdays, while the risk of stroke shoots up by 21.5 per cent. There was also a 34.9 per cent rise in suicides and a 44 per cent rise in deaths from falls on birthdays.

There seems to be consensus that the research is accurate. Richard Wiseman, from the University of Hertfordshire, explained to The Telegraph:

"It seems to be a valid finding... There are two camps [when it comes to explaining the effect] - one is the camp that suggests you eat too much and you're getting on a bit and that causes you to die.

"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'."

Interestingly, the increase in the likelihood of suicide on birthdays is limited to men. Talk about attention seekers. [Annals of Epidemiology via The Telegraph]

Image credit: Omer Wazir from flickr