Are Oscar Winners Healthier?

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Winning an Academy Award may be the highlight of the career for a successful actor, director or producer, but how does taking home one of those golden statues affect a person’s health?

Only a handful of studies have posed this question, and the results aren’t exactly clear.

The first study to explore this idea was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine in 2001. The research compared life expectancy of Oscar winners to other nominees and actors of similar ages. The team found that winners lived on average four years longer than their unrecognized counterparts.

Ultimately, the analysis was used to demonstrate how social class affects the health of the upper echelons of society.

The previous study was challenged by other scientists who claim the research overlooked “immortal time bias” by giving older actors and actresses a statistical advantage in the Oscar race. Oscar winners “had to survive long enough to win,” the authors write, indicating that a person’s success in the years before receiving an award plays a role, too. When taking this into account, the difference in life span is only one year, which is not significant to scientists.

SLIDE SHOW: Celebrity Couples at the Academy Awards: Slide Show

In addition, another study states that Academy Award winners have increased reproductive success when compared to other actors and actresses. In this case, the research suggests that public recognition is an indicator of reproductive success.

So what can we make out of all of this?

It’s true that celebrities possess the money to seek proper care for health problems and may be more likely to have more children with multiple partners.

But regardless of statistical uncertainties, these findings beg the question: Do success and living longer always enhance a person’s quality of life?

Stardom could negatively affect some celebrities. A-list actors and actresses can fall victim to drug abuse and other addictions with devastating impacts.

For instance, Heath Ledger, an actor who died accidentally, received an Oscar posthumously for his work. It’s unfair to guess what he was going through, but the combination of prescription medications found in his body indicate he may have been battling deeper physical and psychological issues despite his professional success.

Of course, Ledger’s case isn’t representative of all actors and actresses, but it serves as a reminder that success may not necessarily lead to better health.

Considering the evidence on both sides, what do you think? Do Oscar winners generally have better health?