Academy Awards: Do Oscar Winners Really Live Longer Than Losers?

Do actors or actresses who leave the Academy Awards ceremony with the Oscar statuette in hand enjoy a longer life?

One previously published study that is again attracting a lot of attention seems to suggest so, which could be good news for tonight’s Oscar winners.

In assessing about 1,600 nominees, the Redelmeier and Singh research paper claimed that high-status Oscar winners live about four years longer than losers (age 80 versus 76), and recipients of multiple Academy Awards live about six years longer than runners-up.

The authors’ explanation for the increased survival rate of Oscar winners concluded:

“Movie stars are often subjected to a personal scrutiny that far exceeds their dramatic achievements. They often need to preserve their image by continually avoiding disgraceful behaviors and maintaining exemplary conduct … Furthermore, a movie star may have more control, ability to avoid stress, self-efficacy, resources, admirers, motivation, and access to special privileges than others in society.”

To put it the 2001 Oscar longevity study in layman’s terms:

“Success could possibly account for the survival advantage, the researchers say. They speculate that since stars are subjected to intense personal scrutiny, they pay special attention to their looks and behaviors. Consequently, they may avoid risky behavior and focus more intensively on eating and exercise. Not to mention, many have the means to hire nannies, trainers, and managers, which could mean they are under less stress than the general population.”

On the other hand, many stars obviously engage in wildly self-destructive behaviors, including drug abuse, that undermines their health and careers. Also, some Oscar winners have enough trouble navigating through their acceptance speech, let alone what happens afterward.

In a subsequent reassessment of the original study, Dr. James Hanley and others observed that the original findings disregarded a concept called “immortal time bias” and that long-lived Oscar winners simply had more time to win an Oscar. “Hanley noted that a fair match-up would analyze not how long winners had lived since an arbitrary point (such as birth or turning 50), but how many additional years they had lived since winning. When Hanley did just that, he found the winners’ longevity advantage vanished.”

Do you think there could be a connection between winning an Oscar and longevity?