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Study: Pop stars die 25 years earlier than U.S. population average

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Amy Winehouse
Anthony Devlin/AP

The road to pop stardom is paved with a fast-paced lifestyle—one that may be shortening the lifespans of many pop musicians, according to a new study.

On Wednesday, The Atlantic published an article on a study that pinpointed the reasons why pop stars seem to die younger than the general population. In a study by the University of Sydney professor of psychology and music Dianna Kenny, 12,000 pop musicians who have died since 1950 were examined and Kenny found that pop stars lived on average 25 years fewer than the American population. (Kenny compiled data from not just the pop genre that we think of today of the “Oops!…I Did It Again” variety, but a wide range of musical genres and subgenres that pertain to the general notion of “popular” music, including Christian pop, country, funk, hard rock, hip hop, indie, punk, rock ‘n’ roll, and world music.)

Kenny also found pop stars were five to 10 times more likely than the U.S. population to die from accidental death and two to seven times more likely to commit suicide. Kenny attributed these findings to the general lack of support and direction given to popular musicians.

“The pop music ‘scene’ fails to provide boundaries and to model and expect acceptable behavior. It actually does the reverse—it valorizes outrageous behavior and the acting out of aggressive, sexual and destructive impulses that most of us dare only live out in fantasy,” Kenny said in the report.

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