Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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The Longevity and Causes of Death of Jazz Musicians, 1990-1999

Bertrand Herer
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 15 Number 3: Page 119 (September 2000)

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Abstract: The aim of the study was to determine the longevity of jazz musicians (JM) and their mortality patterns. The obituaries of subjects involved in jazz music were reviewed in a specialized periodical from 1990 to 1999. Age at death, sex, activity (JM or nonmusicians [NM]), and estimation of life expectancy (LE) at birth were recorded. Causes of death were compared with a distribution based on the general U.S. population, and proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) were calculated. The study population consisted of 346 decedents. The age at death was lower in JM than in NM (70.4 ± 12.4 vs 74.7 ± 10.4 years, p = 0.01), and 83.2% of JM exceeded their LE vs 93.3% of NM (p = 0.046). Information on the causes of death was available for 212 decedents. Malignant neoplasms were the leading cause of death in JM. The PMRs were elevated for malignant neoplasms and suicide. The longevity of JM is lower than that of nonmusical decedents involved in jazz music; however, death before predicted LE is uncommon. Based on this review, malignant neoplasms are the main cause of death in that socioprofessional category

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