Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Causes of Death of Professional Musicians in the Classical Genre

Tuire Kuusi, Jari Haukka, Liisa Myllykangas, Irma Järvelä
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 34 Number 2: Page 92 (June 2019)

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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Music practice and listening have been reported to have favorable effects on human health, but empirical data are largely missing about these effects. To obtain more information about the effect of exposure to music from early childhood, we examined the causes of death of professional musicians in the classical genre. METHODS: We used standardized mortality ratios (SMR) for Finnish performing artists (n=5,780) and church musicians (n=22,368) during 1981-2016. We examined deaths from cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and neurodegenerative and alcohol-related diseases. The diagnoses were based on the ICD-10, with data obtained from Statistics of Finland. RESULTS: Overall, SMR for all-cause mortality was 0.59 (95% CI 0.57-0.61) for church musicians and 0.75 (95% CI 0.70-0.80) for performing artists, suggesting a protective effect of music for health. In contrast, we found increased mortality in alcohol-related diseases among female performing artists (SMR 1.85, 95% CI 1.06-2.95) and in neurodegenerative diseases among male performing artists (1.46, 95% CI 1.13-1.84). Additionally, we found higher SMRs for female than male church musicians for cancers (SMRfemales 0.90, 95% CI 0.83-0.97; SMRmales 0.60, 95% CI 0.54-0.67) and cardiovascular diseases (SMRfemales 0.75, 95% CI 0.68-0.82; SMRmales 0.58, 95% CI 0.54-0.64). CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the causes of death in performers differ from those in church musicians. Performing artists are not protected from neurodegenerative diseases or alcohol-related deaths. The findings call for further study on the life-long effects of music in musicians.
https://doi.org/10.21091/mppa.2019.2016

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